Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Circle Cast Tour: 2011 Book Picks + Giveaway!

Hi everyone! Today, I have Alex Apstein, the author of The Circle Cast. He will talk about some of his favorite books from 2011 and what he’s recommend to us readers, and what kinds of books we’d find in his “library.”

The best 2011 book I’ve read is an amazing collection of very short stories called SUM: FORTY TALESFROM THE AFTERLIVES by neuroscientist David Eagleman. In each story, he imagines a different sort of afterlife. In one, we relive our lives, but they are re-ordered so that all similar acts come together, so that we spend days brushing our teeth. In another, God is the size of a cell, and isn’t even aware of anything happening at our macro level.

I read a lovely history of the Comanche Indian nation: EMPIRE OF THE SUMMER MOON: QUANAH PARKER AND THE RISE AND FALL OF THECOMANCHES, by S. C. Gwynne, presents the Comanches in all their glory, tragedy and brutality.

But mostly, I didn’t read 2011 books in 2011. I’ve been on a little bit of a Tim Powers rampage. I read and reread DECLARE. It’s a spy novel about Kim Philby, the famous double agent, and the US/Soviet spy wars, but in a world in which the djinn exist, secretly. Powers loves to write novels about historical figures, but he fills in the blank spots in their histories his own interpretation. Kind of like what I’ve done in THE CIRCLE CAST, with the otherwise unknown story of Morgan le Fay’s childhood. I also reread Powers’ ANUBIS GATES this year; it involves Lord Byron and a plot to kill the King of England, and some ancient Egyptians trying to bring the old gods back.  And ON STRANGER TIDES, which has Blackbeard the famous pirate dealing in voodoo. They based the latest PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movie on it, more or less.

I went on a slightly less spectacular Charles Stross rampage. I whipped through THE JENNIFER MORGUE, THE FULLER MEMORANDUM and THE ATROCITY ARCHIVES, all of which are spy novels set in our world, but unknown to you and me, the Lovecraftian Elder Gods exist.

I read a lot of nonfiction, too. I loved AND HERE’STHE KICKER, a series of interviews with great comedy writers. And THE BIG SHORT is a dramatic history of the mortgage crisis, if you can even imagine that, from the bankers that defrauded everybody to the few people who called bullsh*t.

I found THE ART OF GAME DESIGN:  A BOOK OF LENSES, by Jesse Schell, really brilliant, even though I’m just getting into writing games. I’m tempted to say anyone creative should read it. You might be inspired to go into the game business, who knows?

Finally, I picked up another copy of Rudyard Kipling’s JUST SO STORIES, which I never get tired of; and Neil Gaiman’s BLUEBERRY GIRL. My 7 year old daughter loves them. But she won’t let me read “The Cat Who Walked By Himself” until I’ve read every other Just So Story in the book.

What’s in my library?

I have five bookcases full of books. I’d have more but I periodically strip out any books I can stand to part with and donate them to the real library. Otherwise they’d take over the house. (Do they breed when I’m not looking?)

So what’s in my library are reference books (a couple of shelves of those, encyclopedias of mammals, birds, trees, music, BREWER’S DICTIONARY OF PHRASE AND FABLE  and the OED); fiction books I might possibly reread (SANDMAN, AMERICAN GODS, CRYPTONOMICON); books I might want to lend to a friend (COLLAPSE; GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL; THE RIGHT DOG FORYOU), and books I just can’t part with (all my old science fiction books from high school).

Actually, I’ve got a small chunk of my library listed in LibraryThing; you can check it out here: I’m on GoodReads, too: And occasionally I blog about books I’m reading at

Thank you for dropping by, Alex!
Giveaway: 1 of 4 e-books of The Circle Cast

How did an exiled girl become the most powerful witch in legend?
Britain, 480 AD. Saxon barbarians are invading, pushing the civilized British out of their own island. Morgan is the daughter of the governor of Cornwall. But when her father is murdered and her mother taken as the King's new wife, she has to flee to Ireland to avoid being murdered herself.

But Ireland is no refuge. She's captured in a slave raid and sold to a village witch. As Morgan comes of age, she discovers her own immense magical powers. She falls in love with a young Irish chieftain, and makes him powerful.

But will her drive for revenge destroy her one chance for love and happiness?

Alex is offering FOUR ebooks to four lucky readers. There will be one winner every week.
Now, for the chance to win, all you have to do is:

Leave a comment.
Leave your email address. (Go stealth mode)
Open to everyone!
Ends when…the tour ends.


  1. Thanks again!

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  2. I've been wanting to read this book for a while, so super excited about the giveaway!

    stephfenner (at) gmail (dot) com

  3. Oh, I would love to win these books :D Thank you for this awesome chance. <3
    Love, Carina ~ carina-olsen (a)

  4. great giveaway!!!

    gfc follower

  5. Sounds good.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com