Thursday, January 31, 2013

Using Discount Coupons at Kobobooks

I've been buying ebooks from Kobobooks.com for quite some time and was delighted when they started partnering with Pick 'n Pay to bring their ereaders to South Africa. What makes them great is that they offer a device agnostic store (selling epub format books), have low prices and often have great discount coupons doing the rounds.

Based on some recent conversations on Twitter it seems as if the coupon vouchers are somehow overlooked by most people, which is a pity since they can often make Kobo a far cheaper option than Amazon.

So here's a brief tutorial on how to use coupon codes at the Kobo store. As far as I know this process only works with purchases through desktop browsers and not the Kobo device itself. You can also find a list of active coupon codes and offers at the bottom of the page. I'll try to keep this updated as I find more coupon codes to add.

Step 1:
First you need to set your account to allow you to use coupons. Go to My Account > Account Settings. Under the Checkout for ebook purchases setting make sure that "Show me standard checkout" is checked. Click on "Save" and you should be all set.

How to allow coupons to be entered

Step 2:
Find the books you want to purchase and click on the Buy Now button which will take you to the checkout page. Look for the section titled "Redeem any gift cards or promo codes". If the book is eligible for a discount you'll see a block where you can enter a promo code (the discount coupon). If you don't see the option to enter a promo code you won't be able to use the coupon for that specific title.

Where to enter the Kobo coupons

Step 3: 
Enter the coupon code in the box provided and click "Apply". The discount should now be active and you can continue with the normal checkout process.


New Checkout
Kobo updated their site recently. Unless you are using an older browser the checkout page will look similar to the image below. Make sure you followed the instructions in step 1 above. To reach the section where you can enter the coupons you'll need to enter your payment details and then press "continue". (You won't be charged at this stage). The page should now look like this:


Enter the coupon in the box provided and click "Apply". If the coupon was successfully applied the discount should show in green. Click on "Buy now" to complete your purchase. Don't forget to ensure the discount was applied, otherwise you might inadvertently be charged full price.

Handy tip:
Kobo doesn't offer a basket, so you can't buy multiple ebooks at once. Each ebook needs to be purchased separately. This can result in lots of credit card transactions which might raise flags at your bank. An easier way is to purchase a Kobo gift voucher for yourself. This will allow you to use store credit to pay for your purchases without having to enter or store your credit card details each time.
[Update:] The Kobo site no longer allows for the sale of gift vouchers, but they are working on bringing that functionality back.

Also note that South African users won't be able to pay via Paypal due to ZAR not being supported as a retail currency for Paypal merchants. You'll be faced with an error message each time (I learned from experience.)

Where do you get discount coupons?
Keep your eye on the newsletters from Kobo, they often contain a single use coupon offering discounts from 20%-35%. Kobo also sometimes partners with certain bargain websites to offer special coupons. A little bit of Googling will often result in a coupon you can use.

Currently active coupons:
Single use per account unless stated otherwise.

Purchase your ebooks at Kobobooks.com using these discount coupons:

20% off
Welcome20
anniversary20
anniversary15
save20bday
birthdaykobo
anniversary16
kobobirthday16


25% off:
25OFFQ4

75% off - OPEN75UP
90% off - DSCVR90BK

[Only valid in selected countries and on certain titles]


Please let me know if this post has been useful and which ebooks you managed to snag with coupons.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Cover Reveal: The Shining Girls

The South African cover for The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes has just been unveiled. The cover art by Joey Hi-Fi is simply stunning. While I like the cover for the HarperCollins edition I think this one just beats it by a hair.

Cover for SA Paperback edition

THE SHINING GIRLS by Lauren Beukes
Release date: 15 April 2013
ISBN: 9781415202012 (paperback) / 9781415203972 (limited edition hardcover)

In Depression-era Chicago, Harper Curtis finds a key to a house that opens on to other times. But it comes at a cost. He has to kill the shining girls: bright young women, burning with potential. He stalks them through their lives across different eras, leaving anachronistic clues on their bodies, until, in 1989, one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, survives and starts hunting him back.

There will also be a signed limited edition hardcover (ISBN: 9781415203972)) sporting a very fetching black cover. Only a thousand of these will be published so if you are keen on one it's best to pre-order your copy today.

Cover for the limited edition hardcover of The Shining Girls

The Book Lounge
in Cape Town is offering a 10% discount on all pre-orders for The Shining Girls and as an extra incentive all their pre-orders (including the paperback editions) will be signed by Lauren. You can even request a dedication! They ship internationally at an affordable price. If you want a personalised copy contacting them would be your best bet.

UK AND US EDITIONS


If you don't live in South Africa, fear not! HarperCollins will be releasing an edition in the UK and Australia and Mulholland Books will handle things for the US. The downside is that you will have to wait a tad longer for that elusive release date to arrive.

UK edition of The Shining Girls

THE SHINING GIRLS (UK & AUS Edition)
ISBN: 9780007464562 / Release date: 25 April 2013
Pre-order from The Book Depository

US edition of The Shining Girls

THE SHINING GIRLS (US Edition)
ISBN: 9780316216852 / Release date: 4 June 2013
Pre-order from The Book Depository

And finally, if the covers aren't enticing enough the teaser trailer might just change your mind.



(Yes, it's so awesome even the book trailer has a teaser!)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review: Stormdancer

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
Title: Stormdancer
Author: Jay Kristoff
Pages: 438
ISBN: 9780230759015
Series: The Lotus War #1
Publisher: Tor
Published: September 2012
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher


Buy it from:
The Book Depository
Kalahari.com
Exclusive Books

Griffins are supposed to be extinct. So when Yukiko and her warrior father Masaru are sent to capture one for the Shogun, they fear that their lives are over. Everyone knows what happens to those who fail him, no matter how hopeless the task.

But the mission proves far less impossible, and far more deadly, than anyone expects – and soon Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in her country's last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin for company. But trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and Buruu soon discover a friendship that neither of them expected.

Meanwhile, the country around them verges on the brink of collapse. A toxic fuel is slowly choking the land; the omnipotent, machine-powered Lotus Guild is publicly burning those they deem Impure; and the Shogun cares about nothing but his own dominion. Yukiko has always been uneasy in the shadow of power, when she learns the awful truth of what the Shogun has done, both to her country and to her own family she's determined to do something about it.

Returning to the city, Yukiko and Buruu plan to make the Shogun pay for his crimes – but what can one girl and a flightless griffin do against the might of an empire?
Jay Kristoff’s Stormdancer is a unique steampunk fantasy infused with Japanese-inspired culture and mythology set in a world on the brink of ecological collapse caused by the very lifeblood that fuels the cogs of its civilisation. Throw in a strong female protagonist with a telepathic ability to talk to animals and you’ve got a recipe for success.

Stormdancer received loads of hype during its release, so I was a bit weary. More often than not I find myself disappointed with novels touted as the next big thing, but this one lived up to all the hype (for the most part).

The story centres around Yukiko and her father, Masaru, who are given a nearly impossible task by their deranged Shogun - to capture an Arashitora (griffin) which came to him in a vision. During the hunt for the Arashitora Yukiko is separated from her father; fighting for survival she finds an unlikely ally in the very creature she was sent to capture. In her travels she encounters a wide scope of characters; from rebel fighters to artificers and royalty. Her long-held worldview is shattered as shocking truths come to light and she is forced to decide whether to take a stand or to sit idly by while great injustice inflicts a terrible price on the land and its people.

Stormdancer is beautifully written with vivid descriptions that bring the world and the characters to life.
‘Bloodshot eyes stared across the gulf between now and the days when she was a little girl, small enough to ride on his shoulders through forests of tall bamboo. She and her brother, little fingers wrapped in their father’s fists, laughing bright and clear as they danced in the dappled light.
Too long ago – the memory faded and blurred like an old lithograph, colours muted over time until all that was left was an impression; a half-image on yellowed, curling paper’ (p 102)
At times this attention to descriptive detail slows the flow of the story down (especially at the start when the building blocks of the world are set in place), but I found myself so engrossed in the world that I didn’t mind. I guess I’m just a sucker for beautiful descriptions.

All the characters are well-fleshed out and burdened with their own motivations and struggles. Strangely enough I didn’t care much for Yukiko until the bond between her and Buruu (the griffin) came into play. It was interesting to see how this bond grows and how they bring out the best in each other. Another character I was particularly drawn to was the somewhat tragic figure of Kin with his unrequited love and dismal existence as an Artificer.

After a slow start the pacing picks up considerably and in the last half of the novel you won’t be able to put it down as events start to unfold at a ferocious pace leading to a poignant conclusion that is satisfying in itself, but will leave you craving more. While the plot is somewhat predictable, especially for longstanding fantasy fans, there are still enough twists thrown in to keep you on your toes.

One of the biggest criticisms voiced against Stormdancer is the liberties Kristoff has taken with the Japanese language and culture used in the novel (see The Book Smuggler’s view). Personally I didn’t have problems with that since my knowledge regarding Japan is minimal at best, but I can see how this would irk someone more familiar with the culture. I did find the frequent use of Japanese words somewhat confusing at first, but the glossary at the back of the book came in handy for the moments when the meaning wasn’t clear from the context or when I had to quickly reacquaint myself with their meaning.

Verdict:
Stormdancer is a very enjoyable coming of age story filled with action, love, intrigue, beautiful prose and superb world-building. Provided you can look past the liberties taken, Kristoff has done a great job with his debut novel. I’m enthralled by the world and definitely want to see more. The stage is now set; let’s see what he comes up with next.

Recommended!

The Rating: 6.5/10 (Good)

The title for the second novel in the series has been revealed. Kinslayer will be published in September this year. (I just hope that title doesn't imply what I think it does...)

Thanks to Kelly from Pan Macmillan SA for providing the review copy.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cover Reveal: Angel Station and Against Gravity

TOR UK continues their revamp of Gary Gibson's backlist with two more novels getting a brand new look. The new covers feature art by Steve Stone and should be on sale in June.

There's only one downside to these - they are so much cooler than the older editions!



ANGEL STATION
Release date - June 2013
ISBN: 9781447224129
Pre-order from The Book Depository

WHAT WILL WE SACRIFICE TO SURVIVE?

For an age, humanity has felt protected by complex artefacts discovered throughout known space. Among these phenomena are the Stations, whereby human spacecraft can jump instantly to far corners of the galaxy. These technological wonders taught us much, but their creators vanished aeons ago. And these ‘Angels’ left powerful enemies – who are about to target these artefacts with a wave of destruction. Our nearby worlds will suffer the same fate.

One Station orbits distant Kaspar; now occupied by scientists and armed militia who monitor the planet below. On its surface, ignorant of our very existence, the only known sentient species other than ourselves is slowly developing. But things are about to change. Kaspar’s mysterious ‘Citadel’ could hold the key to repelling the fast-approaching threat. At what cost, though, to its native inhabitants – and to its human guardians.




AGAINST GRAVITY
Release date - June 2013
ISBN: 9781447224136
Pre-order from The Book Depository

IF YOU LIVED LONG ENOUGH, THIS COULD BE YOUR FUTURE . . .

In the late twenty-first century, it’s a very different world. Little is as it used to be, and many are not what they seem.

Meet Kendrick Gallmon, survivor of the Maze. In this covert research facility, political prisoners became unwilling participants in an experiment to turn them into perfect soldiers. Now Kendrick is trying to pick up the pieces of his life. But he knows his nervous system, now riddled with unstable nanotech augmentations, is slowly killing him. Then one day his heart stops beating, forever, and a ghost urges him to return to the source of all his nightmares. A long-abandoned military complex, filled with entirely real voices of the dead …


New Arrivals

eBooks Bought


I didn't get any books for Christmas (a terrible downside of having family members who think you have WAY too many books already), but I did manage to get my grubby little paws on some ebooks courtesy of a Kobo gift card I received. Normally I would prefer having the actual print copies, but combined with a 40% discount voucher the ebooks were just too good to refuse (and they were much easier to smuggle past the family).

I bought:
Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
Existence by David Brin
In The Mouth of the Whale by Paul McAuley
The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson
Songs of the Earth by Elspeth Cooper

For Review


I received three books for review. Jonathan Ball sent me Stephen King's The Dark Tower: The Complete Concordance by Robin Furth which is a complete encyclopaedic reference to the Dark Tower series. I'm planning on doing a complete reread of the series so I'm sure I'll refer to this often.

Pan Macmillan SA sent me a copy of Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton and Empire of Light by Gary Gibson. Great North Road is a huge tome so it will take me quite some time to read, but being a huge Peter F. Hamilton fan I can't wait to get started.

Thanks Andrea and Kelly for the review copies!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Titles to look out for: January - March 2013

After scouring the publisher catalogs these are the new or forthcoming book releases which have caught my eye. Books might be included in the list based on their brilliant writing, a captivating premise, the continuation of an addictive series or something as simple as the magical lure of their cover art.

JANUARY


The Explorer By James Smythe
Release date: 17 Jan 2013 / ISBN: 9780007456758
Pre-Order from The Book Depository 

When journalist Cormac Easton is selected to document the first manned mission into deep space, he dreams of securing his place in history as one of humanity's great explorers.

But in space, nothing goes according to plan.

The crew wake from hypersleep to discover their captain dead in his allegedly fail-proof safety pod. They mourn, and Cormac sends a beautifully written eulogy back to Earth. The word from ground control is unequivocal: no matter what happens, the mission must continue.

But as the body count begins to rise, Cormac finds himself alone and spiraling toward his own inevitable death . . . unless he can do something to stop it.



A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
Release date: 8 Jan 2013 / ISBN: 9781841498720
Pre-Order from The Book Depository 

'And it came to pass in those days, as it had come before and would come again, that the Dark lay heavy on the land and weighed down the hearts of men, and the green things failed, and hope died.' - Charal Drianaan te Calamon, The Cycle of the Dragon.

In the Field of Merrilor the rulers of the nations gather to join behind Rand al'Thor, or to stop him from his plan to break the seals on the Dark One's prison - which may be a sign of his madness, or the last hope of humankind. Egwene, the Amyrlin Seat, leans toward the former.

In Andor, the Trollocs seize Caemlyn. In the wolf dream, Perrin Aybara battles Slayer.

Approaching Ebou Dar, Mat Cauthon plans to visit his wife Tuon, now Fortuona, Empress of the Seanchan.

All humanity is in peril - and the outcome will be decided in Shayol Ghul itself. The Wheel is turning, and the Age is coming to its end. The Last Battle will determine the fate of the world. . .

FEBRUARY


The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett
Release Date: 11 February 2013 / ISBN: 9780007276219
Pre-Order from The Book Depository 

Continuing the impressive debut fantasy series from author Peter V. Brett, The DAYLIGHT WAR is book three of the Demon cycle, pulling the reader into a world of demons, darkness and heroes. Humanity is fighting back. Although the night still belongs to the demons that arise as the sun sets, new wards and weapons are giving those willing to fight in the darkness a chance to retaliate against their core-spawned enemies. But, as humanity is about to learn, not all monsters are confined to the dark. Civil war ravages the north and south, battles fought between those who should be working together. It is up to Arlen -- the Painted Man -- and Jardir -- the self-proclaimed Shar'Dama Ka, the Deliverer -- to put aside their differences and bring their people to terms if they are to have any chance of saving their civilisation from demon-rule.



Farside by Ben Bova
Release Date: 12 February 2013 / ISBN: 9780765323873
Pre-Order from The Book Depository 

Farside, the side of the Moon that never faces Earth, is the ideal location for an astronomical observatory. It is also the setting for a tangled web of politics, personal ambition, love, jealousy, and murder.

Telescopes on Earth have detected an Earth-sized planet circling a star some thirty light-years away. Now the race is on to get pictures of that distant world, photographs and spectra that will show whether or not the planet is truly like Earth, and if it bears life.

Farside will include the largest optical telescope in the solar system as well as a vast array of radio antennas, the most sensitive radio telescope possible, insulated from the interference of Earth’s radio chatter by a thousand kilometers of the Moon’s solid body.

Building the Farside observatory is a complex, often dangerous task. On the airless surface of the Moon, under constant bombardment of hard radiation and infalling micrometeoroids, builders must work in cumbersome spacesuits and use robotic machines as much as possible. Breakdowns—mechanical and emotional—are commonplace. Accidents happen, some of them fatal.

What they find stuns everyone, and the human race will never be the same.




Fade to Black by Francis Knight
Release date: 26 February 2013 / ISBN: 9780316217682
Pre-Order from The Book Depository 

A dazzling fantasy debut set in a futuristic city where pain is the currency of magic.

From the depths of a valley rises the city of Mahala

It's a city built upwards, not across - where streets are built upon streets, buildings upon buildings. A city that the Ministry rules from the sunlit summit, and where the forsaken lurk in the darkness of Under.

Rojan Dizon doesn't mind staying in the shadows, because he's got things to hide. Things like being a pain-mage, with the forbidden power to draw magic from pain. But he can't hide for ever.

Because when Rojan stumbles upon the secrets lurking in the depths of the Pit, the fate of Mahala will depend on him using his magic. And unlucky for Rojan - this is going to hurt.

MARCH


The Curve of the Earth by Simon Morden
Release date: 19 March 2013 / ISBN: 9780316220064
Pre-Order from The Book Depository 

An action-packed new science fiction thriller set in the world of the Philip K. Dick Award-winning Samuil Petrovitch novels

Welcome to the Metrozone - the post-apocalyptic London of the future, complete with homeless refugees, vicious street gangs and mad cults. A dangerous city needs an equally dangerous saviour: step forward Samuil Petrovitch, a Russian émigré with a genius-level intellect, extensive cybernetic replacements, a built-in AI with god-like capabilities and a full armoury of Russian swear words. Brilliant, selfish and cocky, he's dragged the city back from the brink more than once - and made a few enemies on the way.

So when his adopted daughter Lucy goes missing in Alaska, he has a good idea who's responsible and why. It never occurs to him that there's a chance he could be wrong, and looking for one woman on the dark, frozen slopes of the far north could tip the delicate balance of nuclear-armed nations. This time it's not a city of twenty-five million that needs rescuing: it's the world . . .





Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins
Release date: 26 March 2013 / ISBN: 9780575130531
Pre-Order from The Book Depository

A gripping SF thriller in a brilliantly realized alternative Russia - a superb debut.

A thousand miles east of Mirgorod, the great capital city of the Vlast, deep in the ancient forest, lies the most recent fallen angel, its vast stone form half-buried and fused into the rock by the violence of impact. As its dark energy leeches into the crash site, so a circle of death expands around it, slowly - inexorably - killing everything it touches. Alone in the wilderness, it reaches out with its mind.

The endless forest and its antique folklore are no concern to Inspector Vissarion Lom, summoned to the capital in order to catch a terrorist - and ordered to report directly to the head of the secret police. A totalitarian state, worn down by an endless war, must be seen to crush home-grown terrorism with an iron fist. But Lom discovers Mirgorod to be more corrupted than he imagined: a murky world of secret police and revolutionaries, cabaret clubs and doomed artists. Lom has been chosen because he is an outsider, not involved in the struggle for power within the party. And because of the sliver of angel stone implanted in his head at the children's home.

Lom's investigation reveals a conspiracy that extends to the top echelons of the party. When he exposes who - or rather what - is the controlling intelligence behind this, it is time for the detective to change sides. Pursued by rogue police agents and their man-crushing mudjhik, Lom must protect Kantor's step-daughter Maroussia, who has discovered what is hidden beneath police headquarters: a secret so ancient that only the forest remembers. As they try to escape the capital and flee down river, elemental forces are gathering. The earth itself is on the move.




Halo Silentium by Greg Bear
Release date: 19 March 2013 / ISBN: 9780765323989
Pre-Order from The Book Depository

In the first Forerunner novel, rebellious young Forerunner Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting crosses the paths of two humans, and the long-life line of a great military leader. . . forever changing Bornstellar’s destiny. . . and the fate of the entire galaxy.

In the second, those two humans—Chakas and Riser—are captured by the Master Builder, misplaced during a furious battle in space, and find themselves on an inverted world where horizons rise into the sky, and where humans of all kinds are trapped in a perilous cycle of horror and neglect. They became both research animals and strategic pawns in a cosmic game whose madness knows no end—a game of ancient vengeance between the powers who seeded the galaxy with life, and the Forerunners who expect to inherit their sacred Mantle of duty to all living things.

Now, the third book in this ground-breaking trilogy will reveal the ultimate purpose of this ancient game, challenging everything we thought we knew about the Forerunners.

Based on the universe and characters from the multimillion copy selling Xbox video games, Untitled Forerunner #3, completes a trilogy set in the pre-Halo universe, and sets the stage for the next hotly anticipated Halo game.


***

Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments which titles you are looking forward to.

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