Following a lengthy hiatus, I think it’s high time we brought back our Book of the Month Club.  Longtime readers will remember our book club’s past run was highlighted by some terrific books and equally terrific Q&A sessions with the likes of John Scalzi, Lois McMaster Bujold, Michael Moorcock, Jasper Fforde, David Weber, Elizabeth Moon, and many, many more (Don’t believe me?  Do a blog search for the authors).

Having given it some thought, this is how I’d like to portray with the new and improved version of the BOTMC….

At the beginning of every month, the gang at SF Signal publishes a list of upcoming genre releases complete with covers and click-to-synopses links.  You can find  their January rundown here:

228 Reasons To Read Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror in January 2014 (Your Monthly SF/F/H Cover Gallery).

I went over the list, dismissing the books I’ve read and those I have no interest in reading.  I eliminated those with cheesy covers, subsequent books in an ongoing series, those that failed to capture my interest, those with synopses that failed to tell me what the book was about, those with descriptions containing grammatical errors, and, finally, those with alarm-bell descriptors words like “vampire”, “werewolf”, and “hunky”.  I then narrowed THAT LIST down to the following seven books:


TERMS OF ENLISTMENT (Marko Kloos) Paperback, 346 pages

“The year is 2108, and the North American Commonwealth is bursting at the seams. For welfare rats like Andrew Grayson, there are only two ways out of the crime-ridden and filthy welfare tenements, where you’re restricted to two thousand calories of badly flavored soy every day:

You can hope to win the lottery and draw a ticket on a colony ship settling off-world, or you can join the service.

With the colony lottery a pipe dream, Andrew chooses to enlist in the armed forces for a shot at real food, a retirement bonus, and maybe a ticket off Earth. But as he starts a career of supposed privilege, he soon learns that the good food and decent health care come at a steep price…and that the settled galaxy holds far greater dangers than military bureaucrats or the gangs that rule the slums.”

1WORK DONE FOR HIRE (Joe Haldeman) Hardover, 288 pages

“Wounded in combat and honorably discharged nine years ago, Jack Daley still suffers nightmares from when he served his country as a sniper, racking up sixteen confirmed kills. Now a struggling author, Jack accepts an offer to write a near-future novel about a serial killer, based on a Hollywood script outline. It’s an opportunity to build his writing career, and a future with his girlfriend, Kit Majors.

But Jack’s other talent is also in demand. A package arrives on his doorstep containing a sniper rifle, complete with silencer and ammunition—and the first installment of a $100,000 payment to kill a “bad man.” The twisted offer is genuine. The people behind it are dangerous. They prove that they have Jack under surveillance. He can’t run. He can’t hide. And if he doesn’t take the job, Kit will be in the crosshairs instead.”


WOLVES (Simon Ings) Paperback, 304 pages

“The new novel from Simon Ings is a story that balances on the knife blade of a new technology. Augmented Reality uses computing power to overlay a digital imagined reality over the real world. Whether it be adverts or imagined buildings and imagined people with Augmented Reality the world is no longer as it appears to you, it is as it is imagined by someone else. Ings takes the satire and mordant satirical view of J.G. Ballard and propels it into the 21st century. Two friends are working at the cutting edge of this technology and when they are offered backing to take the idea and make it into the next global entertainment they realise that wolves hunt in this imagined world. And the wolves might be them. A story about technology becomes a personal quest into a changed world and the pursuit of a secret from the past. A secret about a missing mother, a secret that could hide a murder. This is no dry analysis of how a technology might change us, it is a terrifying thriller, a picture of a dark tomorrow that is just around the corner.”


THE ECHO (James Smythe) Paperback, 320 pages

“The disappearance of the spaceship Ishiguro twenty-three years ago devastated the global space program and set back exploration for a generation. Now, thanks to the tireless efforts of twin brothers Mira and Tomas Hyvonen, the program has been resurrected. Spearheading a new age of human discovery, the brothers also hope to solve the mystery behind the Ishiguro‘s disastrous mission.

Mira and Tomas are determined to make their trip successful. They have arranged everything down to the smallest detail. Nothing has been overlooked.

They don’t know that in space, the devil isn’t always in the details . . . and nothing goes according to plan.”


PERFECT (Rachel Joyce) Paperback, 400 pages

“Byron Hemmings wakes to a morning that looks like any other: his school uniform draped over his wooden desk chair, his sister arguing over the breakfast cereal, the click of his mother’s heels as she crosses the kitchen. But when the three of them leave home, driving into a dense summer fog, the morning takes an unmistakable turn. In one terrible moment, something happens, something completely unexpected and at odds with life as Byron understands it. While his mother seems not to have noticed, eleven-year-old Byron understands that from now on nothing can be the same.

What happened and who is to blame? Over the days and weeks that follow, Byron’s perfect world is shattered. Unable to trust his parents, he confides in his best friend, James, and together they concoct a plan. . . .


SNOWBLIND (Christopher Golden) Hardcover, 320 pages

“The small New England town of Coventry had weathered a thousand blizzards . . . but never one like this. Icy figures danced in the wind and gazed through children’s windows with soul-chilling eyes. People wandered into the whiteout and were never seen again. Families were torn apart, and the town would never be the same.

Now, as a new storm approaches twelve years later, the folks of Coventry are haunted by the memories of that dreadful blizzard and those who were lost in the snow. Photographer Jake Schapiro mourns his little brother, Isaac, even as—tonight—another little boy is missing. Mechanic and part-time thief Doug Manning’s life has been forever scarred by the mysterious death of his wife, Cherie, and now he’s starting over with another woman and more ambitious crimes. Police detective Joe Keenan has never been the same since that night, when he failed to save the life of a young boy . . . and the boy’s father vanished in the storm only feet away. And all the way on the other side of the country, Miri Ristani receives a phone call . . . from a man who died twelve years ago.

As old ghosts trickle back, this new storm will prove to be even more terrifying than the last.”

1STAR ROAD (Matthew Costello and Rick Hautala) Hardcover, 336 pages

“A rebel and an outlaw lead an unsuspecting group of adventurers on a secret mission across the vastness of space, in Matthew Costello’s Star Road

Ivan Delgato, a former leader of a rebel group called the Runners, is released from jail on the condition that he carry out a secret mission for the World Council. His assignment is simple: stay under cover, but do absolutely anything necessary to reach the planet Omega IX and offer the renegade Runners clemency if they surrender—which may be complicated since Ivan’s brutally violent brother has taken lead of the Runners in Ivan’s absence.

In search of the Runners, Ivan catches a ride out to the wildest reaches of the galaxy via a mysterious transportation system, the Star Road. His fellow passengers on Star Road Vehicle-66 are a suspicious group, all with their own hidden reasons for traversing the star road. As the travelers contend with increasingly deadly encounters, it isn’t long before suspicions build against Ivan.

And as the Runners must choose one brother over the other, on a planet filled with ancient secrets, those who survive will confront a mystery that changes the Star Road, and humanity, forever.”

So these titles are in contention for our New and Improved Book of the Month Club.  I’ll choose the date of our first discussion once the polls close (sometime next week).  Time permitting, I’ll also reach out to the various authors and see if they’d be interested in dropping by for a little Q&A with us.

Cast your vote!

Again, you can check out the full list at here:

228 Reasons To Read Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror in January 2014 (Your Monthly SF/F/H Cover Gallery)

Today’s entry is dedicated to blog regular Patricia who is undergoing knee surgery today!

37 thoughts on “January 7, 2014: The Return of The Book of the Month Club! Cast your vote!

  1. “those with descriptions containing grammatical errors”

    I request that you also drop WOLVES. The synopsis is poorly punctuated.

  2. Star Road sounds the most interesting to me – more adventure than horror or suspense (the first two sound good, too, but I’m afraid my nerves won’t be able to tolerate them). Perfect sounds a bit intriguing…but I’m afraid it’ll be scary and I don’t do scary very well…unless the payoff is well worth it (e.g. Pendergast).

    One question – how many pages? Don’t be doing some 1200 page book and expect us (i.e. me) to read it in a short period of time. 😛

    Also, you posted the description for Snowblind twice. Not that I’m picking on you or anything. 😉


  3. @Patricia – good timing for the SGA marathon, BOTMC. Hope you regroup quickly. Our resident knee specialist JeffW will have lots of suggestions for recovery.

    Ouch…have to choose. Ok…so I chose the Terms of enlistment, but Perfect seems very intriguing. Now to find time to read….hope these are kindle books.

  4. Okay, I voted. Hurrah for the return of the BotM Club!!!

    Get well soon, Patricia! I had knee surgery almost exactly one year ago to fix a torn meniscus. It is good as new. I hope yours heals as well as mine did.

    I voted for Star Road, but Terms of Enlistment was a close second.

  5. They all sound really interesting to me. Hard to choose, but I decided to go with Perfect to start with. Here’s to a week of searching for the books and then a week of reading all the books without eating or sleeping. Every time I think I’ve gotten over the book addiction (complete with altered personality and senses and slurred speech), I get proven wrong. Perhaps I should just give up on getting over books/stories… but then if I did, I’d probably lose myself (and my job), because I wouldn’t know what else is going on besides what’s happening in the story.

  6. @Patricia – all the best! Get well soon. Make sure you do the exercises, even if it hurts, because it’s all worth it in the end.

  7. “Work for Hire” sounds very good but really, all of those look interesting. Thanks for the list! I’ll look up the Haldeman tonight . I’ve been in a reading drought. Nothing seems to catch my interest lately.

    I hope you feel better soon Patricia!

  8. Excited to see the return of the BOTM club. I am hoping I’ll be able to participate in a few of them. I am back in schools so the BOTM Club will be a good incentive to keep up on my school work. Three of the books have really peaked my interest, Perfect, Terms of Enlistment, and Star Road. Looking forwarding to reading them.

  9. Woah! I thought catching your blog at 5PM would mean I’d be one of the first readers, only to discover that just about everyone beat me to it. Are you still on Montreal time, Joe?

  10. oh-oh..I forgot Sparrow Hawk also did the knee thingey. And, there may be others. So easy to lose track of who’s who, who did what to whom, etc.

    So, Patricia will have lots of suggestions for recovery and encouragement by the rest of the family.

  11. Star Road looks interesting to me. I’ll probably read that one even if you don’t choose it… assuming it is available on the Kindle.

  12. @Patricia:

    Good luck with the surgery! As others have said, keep up with the exercises…it will help in the long run. I’ve got four more weeks of physical therapy myself, so we can commiserate here over the next month 😉

    @Joe on BOTM:

    This comes at a great time! I had to go off reading while I was on the Vicodin, and now that I’m off (the Vicodin) I’m in a little bit of book drought. So I’m jumping right in!

    As for voting, I had narrowed it down to Terms of Enlistment and Snowblind, and finally went with Terms of Enlistment. I was also thinking about The Echo, and I was sold until the last line “They don’t know that in space, the devil isn’t always in the details . . . and nothing goes according to plan.” That just seemed to preface Alien, Black Hole, Apollo 13, and every other space disaster movie I could think off. I could be wrong, but I wasn’t in the mood for a space disaster story right now.

  13. Have a quick recovery and many good years on your new/improved knees Patricia!
    I voted for Echoes, but am satisfied at the front runner book. I will definitely pick up Haldeman’s book no matter the final selection here. Looking forward to the return of the botm club, and other peoples’ take on the selected texts. And nice job narrowing down the choices. I don’t know if I could have narrowed it down so far myself.

  14. Amazon is showing the book coming out in May, though it seems to be available for kindle now. And it’s not showing on ITunes store. (Terms of enlistment). Availability may be an issue. The Echo shows a late January release, haven’t checked on the other picks. How will this affect your decision making?

  15. “Terms Of Enlistment” looks really intriguing. Could make a really cool movie. Fingers crossed it wins!

    Major D.

  16. Yay for the return of the book of the month! Boo that the military novel is currently winning given I just finished The Forever War and am somewhat war-ed

    Perfect seems interesting, yet it doesn’t seem to fit your qualification of “the synopsis tells us what its about”. It feels vaguely The Mist-ish to me? Mixed with The Invasion (only some people know something is different). It’s very vague, yet I may add it to my list even if it doesn’t win.

  17. I voted for The Echo because I’m a space nut and love anything to do with past, present and future space programs.

    I know I won’t be able to read it in time for any discussion but perhaps the audiobook version will be available soon.

  18. Terms of Enlistment is now a four book serie with Lucky Thirteen, Measures of Absolution and Lines of Departure in january.
    Rachel Joyce Perfect not is so perfect than the previus The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry It’s a shame.
    I’ll give a chance to old Joe Haldeman seem intriging concept.

    A quick recovery Patricia 😆

    If we continue replacing parts of our bodies we will soon be a clan of androids. :mrgreen:

  19. I’m enthusiastically choosing Terms of Enlistment. The cover reminded me too much of a Starfist book at first, but I bothered to look deeper.

  20. They all look interesting, and they all remind me of books or shows I like. I can always use good tips for the apocalypse, so Terms gets my vote.

  21. Thank you Joe and everyone for your well wishes. I am doing very well today. This total knee replacement has gone extremely well compared to when I had my left knee replaced in 2012.

    The pain is under control given that I am on Dilaudid every 4 hours. My surgeon just stopped by and is pleased with my progress so far. I can already straighten my leg completely and bend it 90 degrees. He is only watching the skin between my old scar and this new one. It seem to be bruised quite badly and he is concerned that it might not be getting proper blood flow.

    I am walking already with the old lady 😛 walker and looking forward to the day when I can walk and run again without constant pain.

    Thanks again, I will write more when I am discharged from the hospital, hopefully tomorrow! Fingers crossed… 😉


  22. Poop. I was hoping Star Road would be on top. I might just read that one on my own, regardless. Terms sounds too ‘Hunger Gamey’ to me and that sort of survival story just isn’t my cuppa. I might try it, though, if more ‘space’ and less ‘earth’ is involved.

    I know, I KNOW…as a Mad Max fan I should love that type of thing, but Max was a dystopian anomaly for me, just like the Elric saga was a fantasy realm anomaly for me, too. My two preferred subjects are mysteries first and foremost – especially those in the traditional style (reading the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes atm), and Age of Sail (or historical nautical/naval fiction). By extension of the latter, I also enjoy space travel-based sci fi, though more to watch than to read. I’ve tried several things, but have gradually migrated back to that which I enjoy the most.

    That said – and just to be a contrary – I have just finished the second trade of The Massive – a dystopian tale of sorts, true – but it’s more than that – there’s mystery and lots of character study involved, too, making what could be a rather bleak story quite exciting for me. The fact that it happens mostly aboard a ship makes it a sort of ‘age of sail’ story as well, which may be why I can tolerate the dystopian world it’s set in. I hate the fact that I now have to wait a good 6 months for the next trade (July 8th!)…I really need to know what happens next…NOW!!

    Here’s what I’m talking about:

    Have a good day, sir!


  23. Ah, the power of suggestion…

    I’ve checked Joe’s blog a couple of times today for comment updates, and each time I found myself unconsciously humming Snowblind by Styx a few minutes later. It must be the Snowblind book that I scrolled by as I checked.
    Dang it! I’m humming it again!


    I can already straighten my leg completely and bend it 90 degrees. […] I am walking already with the old lady walker and looking forward to the day when I can walk and run again without constant pain.

    Good for you! I couldn’t bend my knee 90 degrees until almost three weeks later. At this rate, you’ll be running in no time! I’ll still keep you in my prayers for a speedy recovery though.

  24. @Patricia Yay! From the sounds of how you’re doing, you should be discharged before the end of the week. The main qualifications are usually that you can completely straighten the leg and bend it past 80 degrees within a week of the surgery (oh, and walk independently with a walking aid) so it sounds like you’re already ahead on that! But since you’ve had another similar operation previously, you probably know that.

    @das Those little arachnids seem to have been doing the rounds on the internet. I’d show the clip to my little sister, but I’d probably end up near deaf in one ear and with a concussion if I did. 😛

  25. I was wondering, did you neuter your dogs Joseph? I was thinking of getting a dog but didnt know if it is a humane thing to do

  26. Hey Joe
    Not sure I could read a book with these eyes. Perhaps if the winning book is an audiobook.


  27. Joey – see dan‘s post right there? I read it FIVE times, struggling to remember posting it (and wondering when I ever said I wanted a dog!) before I realized it wasn’t me. 😛

    @ dan – Unless you’re getting a pet (dog, or cat) for breeding purposes it is best to get them neutered. There are health issues to take into consideration (for instance, female cats who are spayed before their first heat have a greatly reduced risk of developing breast cancer, something common in cats), and neutering male dogs and cats reduces things like territorial marking and aggression.

    We had a male dog once and didn’t get him neutered and he was a pain in the arse. Always escaping and running away for days, only to come back a mess and smelling of…well…other dogs. 😉 In retrospect we wish we had ‘fixed’ him. I have a friend with two male dogs, one fixed, one not…and the unneutered male humps EVERYthing. I know it’s a domination issue and not a sex issue, but I think if he were neutered he wouldn’t be quite so…obnoxious.


  28. @elminster – check out amazon as at least two of the books on the list have audio editions, terms of enlistment and Perfect. So far Star Road does not.

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