Book Events, Books, Events

Holiday Giveaway day 5: Catherine Fisher full hardback sets (two of them!) and international Paolini giveaway!

We are already half-way through our ten days of giveaways, and we wanted to celebrate with an especially awesome giveaway. Today we are giving away not one, but TWO sets of Catherine Fisher’s Relic Master quartet (The Dark City, The Lost Heiress, The Hidden Coronet, The Margrave)! This is an amazing series, and both sets are matching hardbacks, so they are extra nice sets! We are also doing another,separate, international giveaway, this time of a signed Christopher Paolini photo! So, lots and lots of great things today. Also, don’t forget to enter the other giveaways. The first two expire today, so don’t miss out! Day one giveaway, day two giveaway, day three giveaway, day four giveaway.

Here’s a summary of book one of the Relic Master quartet, The Dark City: 

51XUlY+cX9L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Welcome to Anara, a world mysteriously crumbling to devastation, where nothing is what it seems: Ancient relics emit technologically advanced powers, members of the old Order are hunted by the governing Watch yet revered by the people, and the great energy that connects all seems to also be destroying all. The only hope for the world lies in Galen, a man of the old Order and a Keeper of relics, and his sixteen-year-old apprentice, Raffi. They know of a secret relic with great power that has been hidden for centuries. As they search for it, they will be tested beyond their limits. For there are monsters-some human, some not-that also want the relic’s power and will stop at nothing to get it.

Plus, a separate international giveaway for a signed Christopher Paolini photo! Be sure to scroll down to enter!


Rules for the book pack:

This book pack is for US entry only.

This giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on Wednesday November 9th.

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Rules for the signed Paolini photo:

This prize is open for international entries.

This giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on Wednesday November 9th.

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Book Editorial, Books, Editorials, Movie Editorial

What are we reading? Plus, our first Spring Cleaning Giveaway!

what are we reading header

We’ve been enjoying lots of amazing books recently over here at Lytherus, and we wanted to share some of our favorites so you can have even more books on your to-read pile!

Here’s what some of us are reading this week:


sagaI’ve just finished binge-reading Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. I don’t know why I hadn’t read this sooner, because it’s absolutely amazing. But when I suddenly felt like reading graphic novels, this seemed like a good choice, everyone spoke wonders about it. And yet I was still surprised, even with all the praise I had read about it.

It’s amazingly written and drawn, it’s fun and speaks about important themes at the same time, and it’s such a universal story, such an epic, well, saga! I can see why people compare it to Star Wars (one of the reasons I initially started to read it, not going to lie), but it’s its own story with its own merit and without a doubt with the potential to be a classic on its own. You care about the characters and they are all very well developed with their own stories and motivations, whether they’re villains, heroes, or just secondary characters. The way their stories interwoven, how previous plots make a comeback to surprise you, and how each chapter ends in cliffhangers just makes you keep reading and reading. I read the 4 volumes that are already out too quickly, and now I’m in withdrawal. I need more (I also need suggestions of more graphic novels, throw them at me)!! Now I’m starting to read Clementine by Chérie Priest, but I’ll tell you more about that next week!


the just city The Just City by Jo Walton. I grabbed this book based on the blurb alone which is something I usually try to avoid after being repeatedly disappointed. Not today! I think someone unfamiliar with Plato’s Republic and Greek mythology would still find this book extremely well written and intriguing. As someone who has studied both, I find it insanely intelligent and deliciously subversive. While I’ve probably read a book’s worth of Walton’s online nonfiction, this is the first novel I’ve read by her, and I now fully intended to go binge read the rest.


snow like ashes I just finished the audiobook of Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch, and it was AMAZING. There are eight kingdoms in this world, and four of them are season-based. Winter’s kingdom was overrun by Spring, and though most of the Winterians are in workers camps, twenty-five escaped when the fighting happened, and they’ve spent the years trying to get their kingdom back. To do this they need a magical locket that Spring took. The book revolves around an orphan girl who was one of the twenty-five, and her trials as she deals with love, loyalty, and loss. This book was simply fantastic, and I highly recommend it to those who enjoy YA fantasy. It’s a fresh, new idea, and yet there are lots of familiar fantasy elements that fans will love.


Also, it’s Friday, which means it’s time to kick off our April book giveaways! We’re spring cleaning our giveaway shelves, getting some older books into new hands: yours! Today’s giveaway books are by two amazing authors, Catherine Fisher and Caitlin Kittredge. We’ve featured both of them in the past, and we’re excited to be getting books from two amazing series out to you. We’re also throwing in a signed 5×7 photograph from Christopher Paolini!


_LMZ8057 copy


What are the series about? Here are the blurbs of the first books:

iron thornIn the city of Lovecraft, the Proctors rule and a great Engine turns below the streets, grinding any resistance to their order to dust. The necrovirus is blamed for Lovecraft’s epidemic of madness, for the strange and eldritch creatures that roam the streets after dark, and for everything that the city leaders deem Heretical—born of the belief in magic and witchcraft. And for Aoife Grayson, her time is growing shorter by the day.
Aoife Grayson’s family is unique, in the worst way—every one of them, including her mother and her elder brother Conrad, has gone mad on their 16th birthday. And now, a ward of the state, and one of the only female students at the School of Engines, she is trying to pretend that her fate can be different.


incarceronIncarceron is a prison so vast that it contains not only cells and corridors, but metal forests, dilapidated cities, and wilderness. It has been sealed for centuries, and only one man has ever escaped. Finn has always been a prisoner here. Although he has no memory of his childhood, he is sure he came from Outside. His link to the Outside, his chance to break free, is Claudia, the warden’s daughter, herself determined to escape an arranged marriage. They are up against impossible odds, but one thing looms above all: Incarceron itself is alive . . .


We love talking about what we’re reading and sharing good books, and we want to know what you’re enjoying too. Tell us below for your chance to be entered!

This giveaway runs until 11:59 PM on April 9th, EST. It’s open to US residents only (international people, we will have something for you in upcoming weeks!).



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Book Events, Book News, Books, Events, News

Author Guest Post: Catherine Fisher (‘Incarceron’, ‘Relic Masters’) Talks Time-Travel

Hey all! Awesome author Catherine Fisher (the Incarceron and Relic Masters series, among other things) has written up a fun post about the ideas of time-travel and the variations of this classic fantasy/scifi idea. Take it away Catherine!



Everyone has done it, of course.

I’m not sure if H.G. Wells was the first to invent a machine that could travel in time- probably not- but it’s the story everyone thinks of. He gives a great idea of the changes in one place in that great passage where the machine is operated- the traveler can see time speeding up and the whole world flickering and moving around him.

Another time travel book I love is Hope Hodgeson’s The House on the Borderland, which has that epic section at the end where the hero sees the whole history of the universe in one gorgeous outburst of purple prose.

I also like Jack Finney’s book Time and Again where the method of travel is just a mental trick. No machines at all.

For modern people time goes in a straight line, but in folklore time is very different,. If you go to the Otherworld there is no time- everything happens at once. No one gets old or dies. Nothing grows. Everything just is.

And then, if you come back, for you no time has passed, but for the world centuries have gone and you usually crumble to dust. Or, like Oisin, who fell from his horse and  touched the soil of Ireland, you become old instantly.

If a boy is snatched into the Otherworld- a changeling- he will stay the same, though the outside world will alter completely.

And then Time is the one thing humans haven’t been able to tamper with. If a thing happens we have to live with it, and the memory of it. Even if that memory is unbearable. So if a man in that situation found a machine that would allow him to go back and re-live  that terrible event, would he do it?

All this is what lies behind the Chronoptika project which I’m working on at the moment. The first book THE OBSIDIAN MIRROR comes out in the UK in October and in the US in 2013.

It’s still very much in  progress, so I’m at that scary but interesting stage where the characters have arrived and the story is begun, but I have no real idea how it will all end who will live, who will die, who will succeed, who will fail. Anything could happen.

But once it’s written, it too will be fixed in time, and unchangeable.


Catherine Fisher


Thanks Catherine! Interested in more? Check out the exclusive Lytherus interview, and visit the author at

Book Interviews, Books, Interviews

Ten Questions with Catherine Fisher, Author of ‘Incarceron’ and ‘Relic Masters’!

Hey all! This post is a bit delayed because the site was down, but I’m happy to bring you our exclusive Lytherus interview with superstar author Catherine Fisher! She answers questions about both her Incarceron and Relic Masters series, and talks about writing life and other fun things.



1: In the Incarceron series, the prison is one of the most creative and terrifying things I’ve read in a long time. The way it evolves throughout the two books, and the insight into its thinking and actions, was unlike anything I’d ever experienced as a reader. How did this incredible idea come to you?

I like the  idea of a sentient building. In Relic Master Carys meets the Palace of Theriss- a cool sardonic personality, very much the start of the Incarceron idea. I wanted to do more with that. So later, when I had the idea of the prison,-mostly from Pianesi’s engravings of Imaginary Prisons- I decided to give it a mind and also make it like a person, almost in fact a child, as it has whims and  tempers and is completely irresponsible. Then, in Sapphique I had the idea that it would want to escape  from itself- which was a fascinating concept. I mean, don’t we all? Isn’t that what writing is all about?

2: Talk to us a little about Finn. His internal struggle was sad and frustrating at times as he tried to figure out who he really was (and whether or not his dreams were just that, or memories), but he’s such a strong character with a good heart. I also love how he interacts with the prison as the series progresses. Take us through your journey of creating one of the driving forces of these books. Was he hard to get to know?

Finn is the touchstone for the reader. He had to be the way the reader experiences the prison. I wanted him strong but flawed, so he lies and even he isn’t sure what the truth is. He just has to survive. His only certainty is that he came from Outside, but even that might not be true. I never quite made up my mind whether he was Giles or not. He was easy to get to know in one way because  we are with him in that terrible place, and discovering it just as he does. Once he is Outside, in Book two, I realized he would still be unhappy.

3: I really appreciated in Sapphique the different points of view, getting inside the heads of all the different main characters to see what their motivation and drive was, which worked well with the multiple plot lines running toward the finish line. Was it hard to balance so many irons in the fire?

Very difficult. Especially at the end of the two books. Everyone has to have a motive, an aim, relationships with everyone else. But I enjoy that too.

4: In the Relic Master series I love how you have both a complicated, mysterious magical world and also relatable characters who are both flawed and conflicted with various things at practically every turn.  When you created this series, which came first, the chicken or the egg so to speak? Take us through the creation of such a complicated series. Was it hard to develop the other to be equal in importance with the first?

Relic Master was written a while ago, when I had given up work to be a writer. The first book was written very quickly; it was as if a lot of it was pent-up, and now I was free to write it. So it was great fun. The plan was for a trilogy, but it became four because the world of Anara was so interesting and full of potential.

As  usual, the world just grew as I wrote about it. Obviously the books had to develop in intensity, so the Margrave was always there waiting in the shadows. I think the fourth book is the best, in fact.

5: If you were in the Relic Masters world and could have a relic of your own, what would it be and why?

A sort of everlasting fountain pen. Imagine having to write with quills for ever.

6: I’ve noticed with these series that the worlds are more than just one thing (both old and new, ancient and futuristic, outside word and inside world, etc.) How hard is it to blend these different elements into a seamless story in such an effortless-seeming way?

Just you wait till you read Obsidian Mirror!!

But yes, I like to pull in as many opposites and contrasts as possible, to keep the story vibrant and unguessable and to maintain the readers interest- intrigue even. Holding it all together is very difficult- I often get lost, or forget what is where. I keep notes, but mostly I just  work my way through the story and then go back and change things.

7: Above anything else, what I love most about your books are the immense levels of creativity. Your stories are unlike anything I’ve ever read, and there are so many layers!  When an idea hits you, is there a process you follow to develop it, to draw out the other creative elements? 

I like lots of levels and things that echo.  I tend to think in metaphors a lot. The process is difficult to explain as a lot of it goes on sub-consciously, but generally I just start- say with Finn in the ambush scene- and then find out who is doing what- invent a friend for him- Keiro- and the Maestra. As soon as characters come in they start acting the way they are, so the plot starts to move. But I don’t know the plot till things happen usually, or the end either.

8: Take us through your writing day. Do you have any odd writer habits? When you write, do you outline or free-write?

I write from about 9 to 12 and then maybe an hour pm. I try to do 3 pages a day. Not always possible. I like to have music on, I just write with a pencil on odd bits of paper first till I have a chapter and then type it in, editing a lot. Then the next chapter, right through the book. Then edit everything from the start. I do lots of just staring out of the window, or prowling round the room, picking books up and looking at them. I waste a lot of time.

9: What books are currently on your reading shelf? What books have you read that have inspired these lovely worlds you’ve created?

I have hundreds, maybe thousands of books so I wouldn’t know where to start. Influences on my work- Alan Garner, William Hope Hodgeson, Lewis Carroll. RLStevenson, Tolkien, Le Guin, Robert Holdstock. And many more.

10: What are you working on at the moment?

The Obsidian Mirror comes out In October, the first of a projected set called the Chronoptika. I am working on book 2, as yet untitled, and have got to the end of chapter 5. It’s going to be a scary ride, this one, as anything could happen. I wanted to mix time travel and more folkloric themes, but it’s already getting bigger.


Thanks for the questions.

Thanks Catherine! If you want to learn more about Catherine and her amazing books, check her out at
Book News, Books, News

New Releases, Week of July 10th, 2011

Here’s a list of all of sci-fi and fantasy coming out this week.

Released Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

No Man’s World: The Ironclad Prophecy, by Pat Kelleher

It has been three months since the 13th Battalion of the Pennine Fusiliers vanished from the WW1 battlefield of the Somme and found themselves stranded on an alien world. Since then, their trenches have become the target for vengeful alien attacks. The tank, Ivanhoe, is sent on the trail of Jeffries, the impostor many hold responsible for their plight. Lance Corporal ‘Only’ Atkins and his Black Hang Gang, along with a captured alien Khungarrii are ordered to find him.

While the encampment faces an alien threat, the Black Hand Gang discover an ancient edifice containing a secret that will tear the Battalion apart. As the Pennines fight for their lives against the mounting horrors of No Man’s World, their only hopes for survival – and a way home – lie in the psychotropic fuel-addicted crew of the Ivanhoe and its increasingly insane commander!

A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire Book 5), by George R. R. Martin

Dubbed “the American Tolkien” by Time magazine, George R. R. Martin has earned international acclaim for his monumental cycle of epic fantasy. Now the #1 New York Times bestselling author delivers the fifth book in his spellbinding landmark series–as both familiar faces and surprising new forces vie for a foothold in a fragmented empire.

In the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance once again–beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has three times three thousand enemies, and many have set out to find her. Yet, as they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind.

To the north lies the mammoth Wall of ice and stone–a structure only as strong as those guarding it. There, Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, will face his greatest challenge yet. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice.

And from all corners, bitter conflicts soon reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all. . . .

The Last Werewolf, by Glen Duncan

Then she opened her mouth to scream—and recognised me. It was what I’d been waiting for. She froze. She looked into my eyes. She said, “It’s you.”

Meet Jake. A bit on the elderly side (he turns 201 in March), but you’d never suspect it. Nonstop sex and exercise will do that for you—and a diet with lots of animal protein. Jake is a werewolf, and after the unfortunate and violent death of his one contemporary, he is now the last of his species. Although he is physically healthy, Jake is deeply distraught and lonely.

Jake’s depression has carried him to the point where he is actually contemplating suicide—even if it means terminating a legend thousands of years old. It would seem to be easy enough for him to end everything. But for very different reasons there are two dangerous groups pursuing him who will stop at nothing to keep him alive.

Here is a powerful, definitive new version of the werewolf legend—mesmerising and incredibly sexy. In Jake, Glen Duncan has given us a werewolf for the twenty-first century—a man whose deeds can only be described as monstrous but who is in some magical way deeply human.

One of the most original, audacious, and terrifying novels in years.

Midnight Movie, by Tobe Hooper & Alan Goldsher

The good news: Director Tobe Hooper has been invited to speak at a screening of Destiny Express, a movie he wrote and directed as a teenager, but that hasn’t seen the light of day in decades. And Hooper’s fans are ecstatic.

The bad news: Destiny Express proves to be a killer . . . literally. As the death toll mounts, Tobe embarks on a desperate journey to understand the film’s thirty-year-old origins—and put an end to the strange epidemic his creation has set in motion.

Featuring the terror, humor, and sly documentary style Hooper devotees remember from such classics as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Midnight Movie is vintage Tobe Hooper, again demonstrating the director’s place as one of the godfathers of modern horror.

Out of this World: Science Fiction but not as you know it, by Mike Ashley

Whatever you thought about science fiction, think again. And keep on thinking, because that’s what science fiction does. It makes us think, and helps us prepare for the future, understand the present and cope with the unknown by posing such questions as ‘What if…?’ or ‘Just suppose…’. This book, which accompanies a major British Library exhibition on the scope and nature of science fiction, reveals what science fiction has achieved and seeks to achieve. It shows its history over the last two thousand years and its international importance. Divided into six sections – Alien Worlds, Parallel Worlds, Future Worlds, Virtual Worlds, Perfect Worlds and The End of the World – the book explores how science fiction has responded to the impact of science, technology and socio-political change on ourselves and our societies. From the works of Cyrano de Bergerac to Ray Bradbury and Mary Shelley to J G Ballard this book reveals the full heritage and wonder of science fiction.

The Pond, by C. A. Wilson

The beauty of the North Idaho Mountains pulls Patrick and Grace McPherson to spend their first winter months of retirement at their cabin in the high mountains on Porcupine Pond. Ready to head back home to Tamarack Landing for Christmas, the snowstorm of the century traps them in their cabin for weeks. They soon realize they are not alone. As they search frantically for a way out of the mountains, their fear turns to terror as they are stalked by something unseen, yet deadly.




Texas Gothic, by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Amy Goodnight’s family is far from normal. She comes from a line of witches, but tries her best to stay far outside the family business. Her summer gig? Ranch-sitting for her aunt with her wacky but beautiful sister. Only the Goodnight Ranch is even less normal than it normally is. Bodies are being discovered, a ghost is on the prowl, and everywhere she turns, the hot neighbor cowboy is in her face.





Starstruck, by Cyn Balog

Gwendolyn “Dough” X doesn’t think she has much going for her—she carries a few extra pounds, her family struggles with their small bakery in a town full of millionaires, and the other kids at her New Jersey high school don’t seem to know that she exists. Thank the stars for her longtime boyfriend, Philip P. Wishman—or “Wish.” He moved away to California three years ago, when they were 13, but then professed his love for her via e-mail, and he’s been her long-distance BF ever since.
At the beginning of her junior year, though, Wish e-mails that he’s moving back to Jersey. Great, right? Well, except that Dough has gained about 70 pounds since the last time Wish saw her, while Wish—according to his Facebook photos—has morphed into a blonde god. Convinced that she’ll be headed for Dumpsville the minute Wish lays eyes on her, Dough delays their meeting as long as she possibly can.
But when she sees Wish at school, something amazing happens. He looks at Dough like she’s just as gorgeous as he is. But Wish is acting a little weird, obsessed with the sun and freaked out by rain. And the creepy new guy working at the bakery, Christian, is convinced that there’s more to Wish’s good looks than just healthy eating and lots of sun. He tells Dough that a mark on Wish’s neck marks him as a member of the Luminati—an ancient cult of astrologers who can manipulate the stars to improve their lives. Is Wish and Dough’s love meant to be—or are they star-crossed?

Wildcat Fireflies: A Meridian Novel, by Amber Kizer

Meridian Sozu is a Fenestra—the half-human, half-angel link between the living and the dead. She has the dark responsibility of helping souls transition safely into the afterlife. If people die without the help of a Fenestra, their souls are left vulnerable to be stolen by the Aternocti, a dark band of forces who disrupt the balance of good and evil in the world and cause chaos.
Having recently lost her beloved Auntie—the woman who showed her what it meant to be a Fenestra—Meridian has hit the road with Tens, her love and sworn protector, in hopes of finding another Fenestra. Their search leads them to Indiana, where Juliet, a responsible and loving teenager, works tirelessly in the nursing home where she and several other foster kids are housed. Surrounded by death, Juliet struggles to make a loving home for the younger kids, and to protect them from the violent whims of their foster mother. But she is struggling against forces she can’t understand . . . and even as she feels a pull toward the dying, their sickness seems to infect her, weighing her down. . . .
Will Meri and Tens find Juliet in time to save her from a life of misery and illness? And will Meri and Tens’ own romance weather the storms of new discoveries?

Forever (Wolves of Mercy Falls, Book 3), by Maggie Stiefvater

Forever is a fitting finale to the lovely Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater (after last year’s Linger). This time, the stakes are higher than ever: while Isabel’s father plots to wipe out the wolves once and for all, Sam and Isabel search for ways to save the pack, and Cole races to find a cure for Grace. But the real centerpiece of the series is the romance–between Sam and Grace, of course, and between Cole and Isabel–and Stiefvater’s luminous, poignant writing does not disappoint. Sam and Grace steal breathtakingly sweet moments together between Grace’s unpredictable transformations, and Cole and Isabel struggle to melt each others’ icy exteriors. Readers will melt, too, and find a satisfying, but not too-perfect, ending to this bestselling saga.


Siren’s Storm, by Lisa Papademetriou

Nothing has been the same for Will ever since what happened last summer. One day, on an ordinary sailing trip with his brother, there is a strange accident. When Will wakes up, he learns his brother has disappeared, presumed drowned. Worst of all, Will can’t remember what happened—his family finds him unconscious, with no memory of the accident.

Now Will and his best friend and neighbor, Gretchen, are starting a new summer. Gretchen seems troubled—her sleepwalking habit is getting worse, and she keeps waking up closer and closer to the water. Will is drawn to Asia, the exotic new girl in town. Nobody knows where she’s from—all Will knows is that her beauty and her mesmerizing voice have a powerful effect on people.

Then there is another mysterious drowning, and Will and Gretchen begin to wonder: Is Asia just another beautiful, wealthy summer resident? Or is she something entirely more sinister . . . and inhuman?

Dragon’s Oath (House of Night Stories), by P. C. Cast

The first in an enthralling new mini-series of novellas from the #1 bestselling authors of the House of Night, Dragon’s Oath tells the story behind the House of Night’s formidable fencing instructor – the love that will transform him, and the promise that will haunt him

In early 19th century England, long before he’s a professor at the Tulsa House of Night, Bryan Lankford is a troublesome yet talented human teen who thinks he can get away with anything… until his father, a wealthy nobleman, has finally had enough, and banishes him to America. When Bryan is Marked on the docks and given the choice between the London House of Night and the dragon-prowed ship to America, he chooses the Dragon – and a brand new fate.

Becoming a Fledgling may be exciting, but it opens a door to a dangerous world…. In 1830’s St. Louis, the Gateway to the West, Dragon Lankford becomes a Sword Master, and soon realizes there are both frightening challenges and beautiful perks. Like Anastasia, the captivating young Professor of Spells and Rituals at the Tower Grove House of Night, who really should have nothing to do with a fledgling…

But when a dark power threatens, Dragon is caught in its focus. Though his uncanny fighting skills make him a powerful fledgling, is he strong enough to ward off evil, while protecting Anastasia as well? Will his choices save her—or destroy them all?

The Hidden Coronet (Relic Master #3), by Catherine Fisher

The third installment in the Relic Master quartet!

The coronet, a potent ancient relic, might be the only way to defeat the power that is destroying Anara. But it has been lost for centuries, and only legend tells of its whereabouts. Will Galen and Raffi be able to find it before the Watch does?





Undercurrent: A Siren Novel, by Tricia Rayburn

The sirens are back, but Vanessa may be the biggest threat of all. . . .

Nothing has been normal since Vanessa Sands learned that her sister was murdered by sirens—femme fatales of the watery depths—and that everything she believed about her family was a lie.

Her boyfriend Simon’s been the only person Vanessa feels she can really trust. But now there are some secrets she can’t tell even him. And when Vanessa finds herself in the sights of Parker, Hawthorne Prep’s resident charmer, she needs someone to confide in more than ever. Doubting her relationship with Simon, unsure of Parker’s intentions—and of her own—and terrified by what she’s learned about herself, Vanessa has never felt so alone.

But personal problems must be put aside, because the Winter Harbor sirens are back for revenge. Now, Vanessa must face her past and accept that she is just like her enemies—every bit as alluring, every bit as dangerous.

The eagerly anticipated second novel of the Siren trilogy, Undercurrent is a seductive paranormal romance that will leave you breathless.

Released Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Once Every Never, by Lesley Livingston

Clarinet Reid is a pretty typical teenager. On the surface. She’s smart, but a bit of slacker; outgoing, but just a little insecure; not exactly a mischief-maker… but trouble tends to find her wherever she goes. Also? She unwittingly carries a centuries-old Druid Blood Curse running through her veins.

Now, with a single thoughtless act, what started off as the Summer Vacation in Dullsville suddenly spirals into a deadly race to find a stolen artifact, avert an explosive catastrophe, save a Celtic warrior princess, right a dreadful wrong that happened centuries before Clare was even born, and if there’s still time—literally—maybe even get a date.

This is the kind of adventure that happens to a girl once every… never.

Released Thursday, July 14th, 2011

The Last Archangel, by Michael Young

Xandir has been exiled to earth until the end of time. But when his cherub trainee disappears, Xandir makes a deal with rogue angels and giants that could restore life to the mortal woman he loves and end his assignment as a destroying angel in exchange for helping them bring about the end of the world and all of mankind.




List from and descriptions/reviews from




















Book News, Books, News

Amazing Book Excerpts from China Mieville and Catherine Fisher

More book goodness out this week for us bibliophiles to feast on!

Today we’ve got samples from China Mieville’s newest book Embassytown, and Catherine Fisher’s Relic Master: The Dark City.

Not sure what these are about? Here’s the amazon summary for Relic Master: The Dark City, which released Tuesday May 17th:

Welcome to Anara, a world mysteriously crumbling to devastation, where nothing is what it seems: Ancient relics emit technologically advanced powers, members of the old Order are hunted by the governing Watch yet revered by the people, and the great energy that connects all seems to also be destroying all. The only hope for the world lies in Galen, a man of the old Order and a Keeper of relics, and his sixteen-year-old apprentice, Raffi. They know of a secret relic with great power that has been hidden for centuries. As they search for it, they will be tested beyond their limits. For there are monsters-some human, some not-that also want the relic’s power and will stop at nothing to get it.

Fans of Incarceron are predicted to enjoy this new series. The first six chapters are available in PDF form on Scribd.

China Mieville fans, here’s what Amazon says about Embassytown, which also hit stores this past Tuesday, May 17th:

China Miéville doesn’t follow trends, he sets them. Relentlessly pushing his own boundaries as a writer—and in the process expanding the boundaries of the entire field—withEmbassytown, Miéville has crafted an extraordinary novel that is not only a moving personal drama but a gripping adventure of alien contact and war.

In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to the enigmatic Ariekei, sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak.

Avice Benner Cho, a human colonist, has returned to Embassytown after years of deep-space adventure. She cannot speak the Ariekei tongue, but she is an indelible part of it, having long ago been made a figure of speech, a living simile in their language.

When distant political machinations deliver a new ambassador to Arieka, the fragile equilibrium between humans and aliens is violently upset. Catastrophe looms, and Avice is torn between competing loyalties—to a husband she no longer loves, to a system she no longer trusts, and to her place in a language she cannot speak yet speaks through her.

The Prologue and part of chapter one are below!



The children of the embassy all saw the boat land. Their teachers and shiftparents had had them painting it for days. One wall of the room had been given over to their ideas. It’s been centuries since any voidcraft vented fire, as they imagined this one doing, but it’s a tradition to represent them with such trails. When I was young, I painted ships the same way.

I looked at the pictures and the man beside me leaned in too. ‘Look,’ I said.

‘See? That’s you.’ A face at the boat’s window.

The man smiled. He gripped a pretend wheel like the simply rendered figure.

‘You have to excuse us,’ I said, nodding at the decorations.

‘We’re a bit parochial.’

‘No, no,’ the pilot said. I was older than him, dressed-up and dropping slang to tell him stories. He enjoyed me flustering him. ‘Anyway,’ he said, ‘that’s not…It is amazing though. Coming here. To the edge. With Lord knows what’s beyond.’ He looked into the Arrival Ball.

There were other parties: seasonals; comings-out; graduations and yearsends; the three Christmases of December; but the Arrival Ball was always the most important. Dictated by the vagaries of trade winds, it was irregular and rare. It had been years since the last.

Diplomacy Hall was crowded. Mingling with the embassy staff were security, teachers and physicians, local artists. There were delegates from isolated outsider communities, hermitfarmers. There were a very few newcomers from the out, in clothes the locals would soon emulate. The crew was due to leave the next day or the one after: Arrival Balls always came at the end of a visit, as if celebrating an arrival and a departure at once. A string septet played. One of the members was my friend Gharda, who saw me and frowned an apology for the unsubtle jig she was halfway through. Young men and women were dancing. They were licensed embarrassments to their bosses and elders, who would themselves, to their younger colleagues’ delight, sometimes sway or turn a humorously stilted pirouette.

By the temporary display of children’s illustrations were Diplomacy Hall’s permanent hangings; oils and gouaches, flat and trid photographs of staff, Ambassadors and attachés, even Hosts. They tracked the city’s history. Creepers reached the height of the paneling to a deco cornice, spread into a thicket canopy. The wood was designed to sustain them. Their leaves were disturbed by thumb-sized vespcams hunting for images to transmit.

A security man I’d been friends with years before waved a brief greeting with his prosthesis. He was silhouetted in a window metres high and wide, which overlooked the city and Lilypad Hill. Behind that slope was the boat, loaded with cargo. Beyond kilometres of roofs, past rotating church-beacons, were the power stations. They had been made uneasy by the landing, and were still skittish, days later. I could see them stamping.

‘That’s you,’ I said, pointing them out to the steersman.

‘That’s your fault.’ He laughed but he was only half-looking. He was distracted by pretty much everything. This was his first descent. I thought I recognised a lieutenant from a previous party. On his last arrival, years before, it had been a mild autumn in the embassy. He’d walked with me through the leaves of the highfloor gardens and stared into the city, where it had not been autumn, nor any other season he could have known.

I walked through smoke from salvers of stimulant resin, and said goodbyes. A few outlanders who’d finished commissions were leaving, and with them a tiny number of locals who’d requested, and been granted, egress.

‘Darling, are you weepy?’ said Kayliegh. I wasn’t. ‘I’ll see you tomorrow, and maybe even the day after. And you can . . .’

But she knew that communication would be so difficult it would end. We hugged until she, at least, was a little teary, and laughing too, saying, ‘You of all people, you must know why I’m off,’ and I was saying, ‘I know, you cow, I’m so jealous!’ I could see her thinking, You chose, and it was true. I’d been going to leave, until half a year before, until the last miab had descended, with the shocking news of what, who, was on the way. Even then I’d told myself I’d stick to my plan, head into the out when the next relief came. But it was no real revelation to me when at last the yawl had crossed the sky and left it howling, and I’d realised I was going to stay. Scile, my husband, had probably suspected before I did that I would.

‘When will they be here?’ asked the pilot. He meant the Hosts.

‘Soon,’ I said, having no idea. It wasn’t the Hosts I wanted to see.

Ambassadors had arrived. People came close to them but they didn’t get jostled. There was always space around them, a moat of respect. Outside, rain hit the windows. I’d been able to ascertain nothing of what had been going on behind doors from any of my friends, any usual sources. Only the top bureaucrats and their advisors had met our most important, controversial newcomers, and I was hardly among them. People were glancing at the entrance. I smiled at the pilot. More Ambassadors were entering. I smiled at them, too, until they acknowledged me.

The city Hosts would come before long, and the last of the new arrivals. The captain and the rest of the ship’s crew; the attachés; the consuls and researchers; perhaps a few late immigrants; and the point of all this, the impossible new Ambassador.

Chapter One

When we were young in Embassytown, we played a game with coins and coin-sized crescent offcuts from a workshop. We always did so in the same place, by a particular house, beyond the rialto in a steep-sloping backstreet of tenements, where advertisements turned in colours under the ivy. We played in the smothered light of those old screens, by a wall we christened for the tokens we played with. I remember spinning a heavy two-sou piece on its edge and chanting as it went, turnabout, incline, pigsnout, sunshine, until it wobbled and fell. The face that showed and the word I’d reached when the motion stopped would combine to specify some reward or forfeit.

I see myself clearly in wet spring and in summer, with a deuce in my hand, arguing over interpretations with other girls and with boys. We would never have played elsewhere, though that house, about which and about the inhabitant of which there were stories, could make us uneasy.

Like all children we mapped our hometown carefully, urgently and idiosyncratically. In the market we were less interested in the stalls than in a high cubby left by lost bricks in a wall, which we always failed to reach. I disliked the enormous rock that marked the town’s edge, which had been split and set again with mortar (for a purpose I did not yet know), and the library, the crenellations and armature of which felt unsafe to me.

We all loved the collegium for the smooth plastone of its courtyard, on which tops and hovering toys travelled for metres. We were a hectic little tribe and constables would frequently challenge us, but we needed only say, ‘It’s alright sir, madam, we have to just . . .’ and keep on. We would come fast down the steep and crowded grid of streets, past the houseless automa of Embassytown, with animals running among us or by us on low roofs and, while we might pause to climb trees and vines, we always eventually reached the interstice.

At this edge of town the angles and piazzas of our home alleys were interrupted by at first a few uncanny geometries of Hosts’ buildings; then more and more, until our own were all replaced.

Of course we would try to enter the Host city, where the streets changed their looks, and brick, cement or plasm walls surrendered to other more lively materials. I was sincere in these attempts but comforted that I knew I’d fail.

We’d compete, daring each other to go as far as we could, marking our limits. ‘We’re being chased by wolves, and we have to run,’ or ‘Whoever goes furthest’s vizier,’ we said. I was the third-best southgoer in my gang. In our usual spot, there was a Hostnest in fine alien colours tethered by creaking ropes of muscle to a stockade, that in some affectation the Hosts had fashioned like one of our wicker fences. I’d creep up on it while my friends whistled from the crossroads. See images of me as a child and there’s no surprise: my face then was just my face now not-yet-finished, the same suspicious mouth-pinch or smile, the same squint of effort that sometimes got me laughed at later, and then as now I was rangy and restless. I’d hold my breath and go forward on a lungful through where the airs mixed, past what was not quite a hard border but was still remarkably abrupt a gaseous transition, breezes sculpted with nanotech particle-machines and consummate atmosphere artistry, to write Avice on the white wood. Once on a whim of bravado I patted the nest’s flesh anchor where it interwove the slats. It felt as taut as a gourd. I ran back, gasping, to my friends.

‘You touched it.’ They said that with admiration. I stared at my hand. We would head north to where aeoli blew, and compare our achievements.

A quiet, well-dressed man lived in the house where we played with coins. He was a source of local disquiet. Sometimes he came out while we were gathered. He would regard us and purse his lips in what might have been greeting or disapproval, before he turned and walked.

We thought we understood what he was. We were wrong, of course, but we’d picked up whatever we had from around the place and considered him broken and his presence inappropriate.

‘Hey,’ I said more than once to my friends, when he emerged, pointing at him behind his back, ‘hey.’ We would follow when we were brave, as he walked alleys of hedgerow toward the river or a market, or in the direction of the archive ruins or the Embassy.

Twice I think one of us jeered nervously. Passers-by instantly hushed us.

‘Have some respect,’ an altoysterman told us firmly. He put down his basket of shellfish and aimed a quick cuff at Yohn, who had shouted. The vendor watched the old man’s back. I remember suddenly knowing, though I didn’t have the words to express it, that not all his anger was directed at us, that those tutting in our faces were disapproving, at least in part, of the man.

‘They’re not happy about where he lives,’ said that evening’s shiftfather, Dad Berdan, when I told him about it. I told the story more than once, describing the man we had followed carefully and confusedly, asking the Dad about him. I asked him why the neighbours weren’t happy and he smiled in embarrassment and kissed me goodnight. I stared out of my window and didn’t sleep. I watched the stars and the moons, the glimmering of Wreck.

I can date the following events precisely, as they occurred on the day after my birthday. I was melancholic in a way I’m now amused by. It was late afternoon. It was the third sixteenth of September, a Dominday. I was sitting alone, reflecting on my age (absurd little Buddha!), spinning my birthday money by the coin wall. I heard a door open but I didn’t look up, so it may have been seconds that the man from the house stood before me while I played. When I realised I looked up at him in bewildered alarm.

‘Girl,’ he said. He beckoned. ‘Please come with me.’ I don’t remember considering running. What could I do, it seemed, but obey?

His house was astonishing. There was a long room full of dark colours, cluttered with furniture, screens and figurines.

Things were moving, automa on their tasks. We had creepers on the walls of our nursery but nothing like these shining blackleaved sinews in ogees and spirals so perfect they looked like prints. Paintings covered the walls, and plasmings, their movements altering as we entered. Information changed on screens in antique frames. Hand-sized ghosts moved among pot-plants on a trid like a mother-of-pearl games board.

‘Your friend.’ The man pointed at his sofa. On it lay Yohn.

I said his name. His booted feet were up on the upholstery, his eyes were closed. He was red and wheezing. I looked at the man, afraid that whatever he’d done to Yohn, as he must have done, he would do to me. He did not meet my eyes, instead, fussing with a bottle. ‘They brought him to me,’ he said. He looked around, as if for inspiration on how to speak to me. ‘I’ve called the constables.’ He sat me on a stool by my barely breathing friend and held out a glass of cordial to me. I stared at it suspiciously until he drank from it himself, swallowed and showed me he had by sighing with his mouth open. He put the vessel in my hand. I looked at his neck, but I could not see a link. I sipped what he had given me. ‘The constables are com- ing,’ he said. ‘I heard you playing. I thought it might help him to have a friend with him. You could hold his hand.’ I put the glass down and did so. ‘You could tell him you’re here, tell him he’ll be alright.’

‘Yohn, it’s me, Avice.’ After a silence I patted Yohn on the shoulder. ‘I’m here. You’ll be alright, Yohn.’ My concern was quite real. I looked up for more instructions, and the man shook his head and laughed.

‘Just hold his hand then,’ he said.

‘What happened, sir?’ I said.

‘They found him. He went too far.’

Poor Yohn looked very sick. I knew what he’d done. Yohn was the second-best southgoer in our group. He couldn’t compete with Simmon, the best of all, but Yohn could write his name on the picket fence several slats further than I. Over some weeks I’d strained to hold my breath longer and longer, and my marks had been creeping closer to his. So he must have been secretly practicing. He’d run too far from the breath of the aeoli. I could imagine him gasping, letting his mouth open and sucking in air with the sour bite of the interzone, trying to go back but stumbling with the toxins, the lack of clean oxygen. He might have been down, unconscious, breathing that nasty stew for minutes.

‘They brought him to me,’ the man said again. I made a tiny noise as I suddenly noticed that, half-hidden by a huge ficus, something was moving. I don’t know how I’d failed to see it.

It was a Host. It stepped to the centre of the carpet. I stood immediately, out of the respect I’d been taught and my child’s fear. The Host came forward with its swaying grace, in complicated articulation. It looked at me, I think: I think the constellation of forking skin that was its lustreless eyes regarded me. It extended and reclenched a limb. I thought it was reaching for me.

‘It’s waiting to see the boy’s taken,’ the man said. ‘If he gets better it’ll be because of our Host here. You should say thank you.’

I did so and the man smiled. He squatted beside me, put his hand on my shoulder. Together we looked up at the strangely moving presence. ‘Little egg,’ he said, kindly. ‘You know it can’t hear you? Or, well . . . that it hears you but only as noise?

But you’re a good girl, polite.’ He gave me some inadequately sweet adult confection from a mantlepiece bowl. I crooned over Yohn, and not only because I was told to. I was scared. My poor friend’s skin didn’t feel like skin, and his movements were troubling.

The Host bobbed on its legs. At its feet shuffled a dogsized presence, its companion. The man looked up into what must be the Host’s face. Staring at it, he might have looked regretful, or I might be saying that because of things I later knew.

The Host spoke.

Of course I’d seen its like many times. Some lived in the interstice where we dared ourselves to play. We sometimes found ourselves facing them, as they walked with crablike precision on whatever their tasks were, or even running, with a gait that made them look as if they must fall, though they did not. We saw them tending the flesh walls of their nests, or what we thought of as their pets, those whispering companion animal things. We would quieten abruptly down in their presence and move away from them. We mimicked the careful politeness our shiftparents showed them. Our discomfort, like that of the adults we learned it from, outweighed any curiosity at the strange actions we might see the Hosts performing.

We would hear them speak to each other in their precise tones, so almost like our voices. Later in our lives a few of us might understand some of what they said, but not yet, and never really me. I’d never been so close to one of the Hosts. My fear for Yohn distracted me from all I’d otherwise feel from this proximity to the thing, but I kept it in my sight, so it could not surprise me, so when it rocked closer to me I shied away abruptly and broke off whispering to my friend.

They were not the only exoterres I’d seen. There were exot inhabitants of Embassytown – a few Kedis, a handful of Shur’asi and others – but with those others, while there was strangeness of course there was never that abstraction, that sheer remove one felt from Hosts. One Shur’asi shopkeeper would even joke with us, his accent bizarre but his humour clear.

Later I understood that those immigrants were exclusively from species with which we shared conceptual models, according to various measures. The indigenes, in whose city we had been graciously allowed to build Embassytown, Hosts were cool, incomprehensible presences. Powers like subaltern gods, which sometimes watched us as if we were interesting, curious dust, which provided our biorigging, and to which the Ambassadors alone spoke. We were reminded often that we owed them courtesy. Pass them in the street and we would show the required respect, then run on giggling. Without my friends though I couldn’t camouflage my fear with silliness.

‘It’s asking if the boy’ll be alright,’ the man said. He rubbed his mouth.

‘Colloquially, something like, will he run later or will he cool? It wants to help. It has helped. It probably thinks me rude.’ He sighed. ‘Or mentally ill. Because I won’t answer it. It can see I’m diminished. If your friend doesn’t die it’ll be because it brought him here.’

‘The Hosts found him.’ I could tell the man was trying to speak gently to me. He seemed unpractised. ‘They can come here but they know we can’t leave. They know more or less what we need.’ He pointed at the Host’s pet. ‘They had their engines breathe oxygen into him. Yohn’ll maybe be fine. The constables’ll come soon. Your name’s Avice. Where do you live, Avice?’ I told him. ‘Do you know my name?’ I’d heard it of course. I was unsure of the etiquette of speaking it to him. ‘Bren,’ I said.

‘Bren. That isn’t right. You understand that? You can’t say my name. You might spell it, but you can’t say it. But then I can’t say my name either. Bren is as good as any of us can do. It . . .’ He looked at the Host, which nodded gravely. ‘Now, it can say my name. But that’s no good: it and I can’t speak any more.’ ‘Why did they bring him to you, Sir?’ His house was close to the interstice, to where Yohn had fallen, but hardly adjacent.

‘They know me. They brought your friend to me because though as I say they know me to be lessened in some way they also recognise me. They speak and they must hope I’ll answer them. I’m . . . I must be . . . very confusing to them.’ He smiled. ‘It’s all foolishness I know. Believe me I do know that. Do you know what I am, Avice?’ I nodded. Now, of course, I know that I had no idea what he was, and I’m not sure he did either.

The constables at last arrived with a medical team, and Bren’s room became an impromptu surgery. Yohn was intubated, drugged, monitored. Bren pulled me gently out of the experts’ way. We stood to one side, I, Bren and the Host, its animal tasting my feet with a tongue like a feather. A constable bowed to the Host, which moved its face in response.

‘Thanks for helping your friend, Avice. Perhaps he’ll be fine. And I’ll see you soon, I’m sure. “Turnaround, incline, piggy, sunshine”?’ Bren smiled.

While a constable ushered me out at last, Bren stood with the Host. It had wrapped him in a companionable limb. He did not pull away. They stood in polite silence, both looking at me. At the nursery they fussed over me. Even assured by the officer that I’d done nothing wrong, the staffparents seemed a little suspicious about what I’d got myself into. But they were decent, because they loved us. They could see I was in shock. How could I forget Yohn’s shaking figure? More, how could I forget being quite so close up to the Host, the sounds of its voice? I was haunted by what had been, without question, its precise attention on me.

‘So somebody had drinks with Staff, today, did they?’ my shiftfather teased, as he put me to bed. It was Dad Shemmi, my favourite.

Later in the out I took mild interest in all the varieties of ways to be families. I don’t remember any particular jealousy I, or most other Embassytown children, felt at those of our shiftsiblings whose blood parents at times visited them: it wasn’t in particular our norm there. I never looked into it but I wondered, in later life, whether our shift-and-nursery system continued social practices of Embassytown’s founders (Bremen has for a long time been relaxed about including a variety of mores in its sphere of governance), or if it had been thrown up a little later.

Perhaps in vague social-evolutionary sympathy with the institutional raising of our Ambassadors. No matter. You heard terrible stories from the nurseries from time to time, yes, but then in the out I heard bad stories too, about people raised by those who’d birthed them. On Embassytown we all had our favourites and those we were more scared of, those whose on-duty weeks we relished and those not, those we’d go to for comfort, those for advice, those we’d steal from, and so on: but our shiftparents were good people. Shemmi I loved the most.

‘Why do the people not like Mr Bren living there?’

‘Not Mr Bren, darling, just Bren. They, some of them, don’t think it’s right for him to live like that, in town.’

‘What do you think?’

He paused. ‘I think they’re right. I think it’s . . . unseemly. There are places for the cleaved.’ I’d heard that word before, from Dad Berdan. ‘Retreats just for them, so . . . It’s ugly to see, Avvy. He’s a funny one. Grumpy old sod. Poor man. But it isn’t good to see. That kind of wound.’

It’s disgusting, some of my friends later said. They’d learnt this attitude from less liberal shiftparents. Nasty old cripple should go to the sanatorium. Leave him alone, I’d say, he saved Yohn.

Yohn recovered. His experience didn’t stop our game. I went a little further, a little further over weeks, but I never reached Yohn’s marks. The fruits of his dangerous experiment, a last mark, was metres further than any of his others, the initial letter of his name in a terrible hand. ‘I fainted there,’ he would tell us. ‘I nearly died.’ After his accident he was never able to go nearly so far again. He remained the second-best because of his history, but I could beat him now.

‘How do I spell Bren’s name?’ I asked Dad Shemmi, and he showed me.

‘Bren,’ he said, running his finger along the word: seven letters; four he sounded; three he could not.


Embassytown © 2011 China Mieville



Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

Review: Sapphique

Review: Sapphique

Author: Catherine Fisher

Released: 12/28/10

In this sensational follow-up to January’s Incarceron, Fisher nails it again.  The dark, ragged halls and dangerous wings of Incarceron are visited once more, as the story alternates back and forth between the world of the prison and the outside. Things inside are starting to fail, risking the life of every being. Incarceron has become obsessed with going outside and is focusing all of its energy on building a body to achieve that goal, slowly sucking the life out of its very walls. And things aren’t any better on the outside; Finn, finally free, is still fighting for his life, but in the unfamiliar arena of the royal court. He is being sold to the public as the lost prince, but he still doubts it himself, enforced by the debilitating visions he’s still having. And when the queen presents a challenge for the throne, Finn needs to really try and figure out who he is and if he’s truly ready to step up and claim the throne that is supposedly his.

This story is just as wonderfully complex as its predecessor. As each chapter goes back and forth between the two worlds, Fisher manages to flawlessly create unique tension that builds, and she keeps it going, leaving you hanging by switching to the other side of the story just when things get good.

Finn and Claudia are trying to convince everyone on the outside that Finn is the long-lost heir to the throne. This is made all the harder with the disappearance of her father, Incarceron’s warden, into the prison, leaving them to struggle alone. Finn isn’t cut out for a life of rules where appearance is everything, and he is constantly struggling against these new confines. Their efforts are also complicated by his visions, which continue to occur even though he is no longer inside. The political intrigue that builds throughout this part of the story is perfection; it is easy to empathize with Finn, even while wanting desperately for him to just suck it up and take up the mantle of the throne. Add in the other contender for the throne that appears practically out of thin air, fitting the image of the lost prince so well that even Claudia begins to doubt Finn being the heir, and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

The Incarceron part of the story was even better. Finn’s friends were left behind, and they’re desperate to emerge. His oath-brother, Keiro, is bitter about being left behind because of his metal parts, and with the help of Attia is on a quest to seek the mythical magical glove of Sapphique, a tool that supposedly would allow them to pass out of the prison. The main challenge they face is that Incarceron wants the glove too, to use on the mechanical body it is building, and so at every turn they face danger. Even when the prison teams up with them, they know they can’t let their guards down for even a moment. There is one particular scene, when they challenge a beast in the ice wing, that left me breathless and with chills, it was so uniquely creepy. And that’s what Fisher does best: the one-of-a-kind elements of this story keep it captivating the entire time, and I was constantly amazed by her brilliant imagination.

The ending was perfection. Fisher keeping me connected so intimately with characters I loved made it a wonderfully satisfying close. And it feels like this is the end of the story. I’m sure there is room for another book to follow in there, but I was happy with the way things were left. It was a radiant finish to a dazzling story, and one I will be happy to revisit for years to come.

Reviewed by: Lauren Z.

Book News, Books, News

New Releases, Week of December 26th, 2010: Part One

Here’s a list of all the fantasy, sci-fi, and horror books coming out this week. There are so many I split the list up into a few parts.

Released Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Sapphique, by Catherin Fisher

The only one who escaped . . .  And the one who could destroy them all. Incarceron, the living prison, has lost one of its inmates to the outside world: Finn’s escaped, only to find that Outside is not at all what he expected. Used to the technologically advanced, if violently harsh, conditions of the prison, Finn is now forced to obey the rules of Protocol, which require all people to live without technology. To Finn, Outside is just a prison of another kind, especially when Claudia, the daughter of the prison’s warden, declares Finn the lost heir to the throne. When another claimant emerges, both Finn’s and Claudia’s very lives hang on Finn convincing the Court of something that even he doesn’t fully believe. Meanwhile, Finn’s oathbrother Keiro and his friend Attia are still trapped inside Incarceron. They are searching for a magical glove, which legend says Sapphique used to escape. To find it, they must battle the prison itself, because Incarceron wants the glove too.

(Check out the Lytherus review for Sapphique here)

The Lost Saint: A Dark Divine Novel, by Bree Despain

The non-stop sequel to The Dark Divine delivers an even hotter romance and more thrilling action than Bree Despain’s first novel.  Grace Divine made the ultimate sacrifice to cure Daniel Kalbi.  She gave her soul to the wolf to save him and lost her beloved mother.  When Grace receives a haunting phone call from Jude, she knows what she must do.  She must become a Hound of Heaven.  Desparate to find Jude, Grace befriends Talbot – a newcomer to town who promises her that he can help her be a hero.  But as the two grow closer, the wolf grows in Grace, and her relationship with Daniel begins to crumble.  Unaware of the dark path she is walking, Grace becomes prideful in her new abilities – not realizing that an old enemy has returned and deadly trap is about to be sprung.  Readers, raveous for more Grace and Daniel, will be itching to sink their teeth into The Lost Saint.

Emily the Strange: Dark Times, by Rob Reger

Emily’s uniquely strange homeschool syllabus includes:

1. Time Travel 101
2. Advanced Spy Photography
3. Bonnet Basics
4. Great Aunts Through the Ages
5. Intro to Germ Theory
6. Care and Feeding of ‘Squito Fish
7. Fundamentals of Black Rock
8. Spiderweb Embroidery
9. Historical & Contemporary Felines
10. Pop Quizzes
11. Foodstuffs of the 1780s
12. Thwarting Ancestral Enemies
13. Techniques in Parallel

Vampire Crush, by A. M. Robinson

I swear, my life was always totally normal. Normal house, normal family, normal school. My looks are average, I don’t have any superpowers, no one’s showing up to tell me I’m a princess—you get the picture. But when my junior year started, something not normal happened. There were new kids at school . . . new kids with a wardrobe straight out of a 19th-century romance novel, and an inexplicable desire to stay at school until sundown. And on top of that, James Hallowell showed up. James, who stole my sandwiches in fourth grade and teased me mercilessly through middle school. James, who now seems to have the power to make my heart race any time he comes near. But something weird is going on. Because James rarely goes out during the day. And he seems stronger than your typical guy. And he knows the new kids, all of whom seem to be harboring some kind of deep secret. . . .

Fallen Angel, by Heather Terrell

Heaven-sent? Ellie was never particularly good at talking to boys—or anyone other than her best friend and fellow outcast, Ruth. Then she met Michael. Michael is handsome, charming, sweet. And totally into Ellie. It’s no wonder she is instantly drawn to him. But Michael has a secret. And he knows Ellie is hiding something, too. They’ve both discovered they have powers beyond their imagining. Powers that are otherworldly. Ellie and Michael are determined to uncover what they are, and how they got this way . . . together. But the truth has repercussions neither could have imagined. Soon they find themselves center stage in an ancient conflict that threatens to destroy everything they love. And it is no longer clear whether Ellie and Michael will choose the same side. In this electrifying novel, Heather Terrell spins a gripping supernatural tale about true love, destiny, and the battle of good versus evil.

Once in a Full Moon, by Ellen Schreiber

Beware of a kiss under the full moon. It will change your life forever. Celeste Parker is used to hearing scary stories about werewolves—Legend’s Run is famous for them. She’s used to everything in the small town until Brandon Maddox moves to Legend’s Run and Celeste finds herself immediately drawn to the handsome new student. But when, after an unnerving visit with a psychic, she encounters a pack of wolves and gorgeous, enigmatic Brandon, she must discover whether his transformation is more than legend or just a trick of the shadows in the moonlight. Her best friends may never forgive her if she gives up her perfect boyfriend, Nash, for Brandon, who’s from the wrong side of town. But she can’t deny her attraction or the strong pull he has on her. Brandon may be Celeste’s hero, or he may be the most dangerous creature she could encounter in the woods of Legend’s Run. Psychic predictions, generations-old secrets, a town divided, and the possibility of falling in love with a hot and heroic werewolf are the perfect formula for what happens . . . once in a full moon.

Deadly Little Games: A Touch Novel, by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Camelia and Ben have discovered a powerful bond: They both possess the power of psychometry, the ability to sense things through touch. For Ben, the gift is a frightening liability. When he senses a strong threat or betrayal, he risks losing control and hurting people. Camelia’s gift is more mysterious. When she works with clay, her hands sculpt messages her mind doesn’t yet comprehend. Before either teen has a chance to fully grasp these abilities, an unresolved family tragedy resurfaces in Camelia’s life, irrevocably changing everything she cares about…

Bloody Valentine (a Blue Bloods Novel), by Melissa de la Cruz

Vampires have powers beyond human comprehension: strength that defies logic, speed that cannot be captured on film, the ability to shapeshift and more. But in matters of the heart, no one, not even the strikingly beautiful and outrageously wealthy Blue Bloods, has total control. InBloody Valentine, bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz offers readers a new story about the love lives of their favorite vamps – the passion and heartache, the hope and devastation, the lust and longing. Combined with all the glitz, glamour, and mystery fans have come to expect, this is sure to be another huge hit in the Blue Bloods series.

The Edge (Star Trek: Starfleet Academy), by Rudy Josephs

A new Starfleet Academy series for teens–filled with romance and adventure! In The Competitive Edge, Kirk finds out how much of a toll the intense training classes and grueling schedule of academy life is taking on all the cadets, including himself. But some recruits seem better equipped to handle the challenges. Is there something that is giving them an edge? Kirk is determined to find out, especially since one of the cadets with a little something extra is his new girlfriend.

The Age of Odin, by James Lovegrove

Gideon Dixon was a good solider but bad at everything else. So when he hears about the Valhalla Project it seems like a dream come true. However, the last thing Gideon expects is to finding himself fighting alongside the gods of the ancient Norse pantheon. Original.Gideon Dixon was a good solider but bad at everything else. Now the British Army doesn’t want him any more. So when he hears about the Valhalla Project it seems like a dream come true. They’re recruiting from service personnel for execellent pay with no questions asked to take part in unspecified combat operations. The last thing Gideon expects is to finding himself fighting alongside the gods of the ancient Norse pantheon. The world is in the grip of one of the worst winters it has ever known, and Ragnarok-the fabled final conflict of the Sagas-is looming.

Engineering Infinity, edited by Jonathan Strahan

The universe shifts and changes: suddenly you understand, you get it, and are filled with a sense of wonder. That moment of understanding drives the greatest science-fiction stories and lies at the heart of Engineering Infinity. Whether it’s coming up hard against the speed of light and, with it, the enormity of the universe, realising that terraforming a distant world is harder and more dangerous than you’d ever thought, or simply realizing that a hitchhiker on a starship consumes fuel and oxygen with tragic results, it’s hard science-fiction where sense of wonder is most often found and where science-fiction’s true heart lies. The exciting and innovative science-fiction anthology collects together stories by some of the biggest names in the field including Stephen Baxter, Charles Stross and Greg Bear.

Killing Rocks (The Bloodhound Files), by D D Barant

The insubstantial third entry in the Bloodhound Files (after March 2010’s Death Blows) has vampire NSA chief David Cassius assigning FBI profiler Jace Valchek to hunt down Asher, the crazy, evil shaman who first pulled her into an alternate universe in which vampires, golems, and werewolves outnumber humans 99 to 1. Sent to Las Vegas, this time Jace has to do without her trusty golem sidekick, Charlie, who appears to be drawn into a war for golem rights. Instead, she teams up with the perky shape-changing mage Azura, a stripper and magical Astonisher trained to deceive. There is little development of established characters or furthering of the story arc, but the action crackles as the characters fall in and out of myths while making and breaking alliances and cracking wise.

Prospero Burns (The Horus Heresy), by Dan Abnett

The Emperor is enraged. Primarch Magnus the Red, of the Thousand Sons Legion, has made a catastrophic mistake that endangers the safety of Terra. With no other choice, the Emperor charges Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves, with the apprehension of his brother from the Thousand Sons home world of Prospero. This planet of sorcerers will not be easy to overcome, but Russ and his Space Wolves are not easily deterred. With wrath in his heart, Russ is determined to bring Magnus to justice and cause the fall of Prospero.

What the Night Knows, by Dean Koontz

In the late summer of a long ago year, a killer arrived in a small city. His name was Alton Turner Blackwood, and in the space of a few months he brutally murdered four families. His savage spree ended only when he himself was killed by the last survivor of the last family, a fourteen-year-old boy. Half a continent away and two decades later, someone is murdering families again, recreating in detail Blackwood’s crimes. Homicide detective John Calvino is certain that his own family—his wife and three children—will be targets in the fourth crime, just as his parents and sisters were victims on that distant night when he was fourteen and killed their slayer. As a detective, John is a man of reason who deals in cold facts. But an extraordinary experience convinces him that sometimes death is not a one-way journey, that sometimes the dead return. Here is ghost story like no other you have read. In the Calvinos, Dean Koontz brings to life a family that might be your own, in a war for their survival against an adversary more malevolent than any he has yet created, with their own home the battleground. Of all his acclaimed novels, none exceeds What the Night Knows in power, in chilling suspense, and in sheer mesmerizing storytelling.

God King: Time of Legends, by Graham McNeill

Sigmar, the first Emperor, is a god amongst men, a peerless leader and an unbreakable warrior. Having defeated the Chaos invasion of Middenheim, the Empire knows a measure of peace. But in the vast deserts of Nehekhara, another empire is rising. Nagash, the most feared of necromancers, is determined to claim dominance over the Old World, crushing all before him with an unstoppable and nightmarish army. Legions of unnatural creatures swarm the Empire. Sigmar must defend the lands of the living from the hordes of the dead and prevent Nagash’s terrible vision of power coming true.

The Dark Griffin, by K. J. Taylor

Being chosen as a griffin’s companion has allowed Arren Cardockson to gain a place of status within the land of Cymria. But Arren can never escape the prejudice that comes with his Northerner slave origins. For chained within the Arena where rogue griffins battle to entertain the crowds, there lies another soul crying out to be freed-a kindred spirit that will allow Arren to fulfill his destiny and release the darkness in his heart.

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Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

Recommendation: “Incarceron”


Title: Incarceron

Author: Catherine Fisher

Released: 01/26/10

Prison is never fun. But Incarceron is truly hell, because it is alive, watching you, waiting to destroy you, and enjoying the process. Catherine Fisher creates a vivid, wonderfully written dystopian world in her new YA book Incarceron.

The creativity of this book is what struck me strongly from the start. The prison is alive. Not alive as you or I are per se, but it thinks, watches, and plans. There is even a creepy laugh that can be heard from time to time. The story hits the ground running, with the reader being thrust into a tense situation with the male protagonist Finn. He is trapped and about to get run over from a group of people he doesn’t know. But they stop, and are ambushed. Before everything can truly be carried out, the prison decides to shake things up, shooting laser lights that kill, tearing down walls and re-forming rooms, and basically sending the prisoners to their deaths if they don’t move fast enough to get away.

Finn was born in the prison, created from recycled flesh (gross!) as a teen with no memory of how he got to be that age. But there are those who doubt, who think he might have been born outside, confirmed by Finn’s vivid visions of a foreign world with stars in the sky that leave him collapsed and in a weakened state. He also has a strange tattoo on his wrist, which he knows is connected to it all somehow, and when he encounters a woman who might have information about what the image could be, he does everything he can to talk to her.

The story jumps to Claudia, whose father is the warden of Incarceron. They are on the outside, living in a simplified society, and Claudia and her friends have the impression that Incarceron is a paradise for its prisoners. But Claudia wants to know what is really happening behind the doors of her father’s study, and the path she takes connects her to people and a world that are completely unexpected from everything she had been told.

What I thought was going to be the major secret of the story was reveled pretty early on, and at first I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I was worried the rest of the tale was going to be predictable and hard to get through because I’d be bored. But in actuality it worked out great. The info revealed was vital to telling the true story, and there were definitely some secrets at the end that completely caught me off guard. I really enjoyed the way the story traded off between Claudia and Finn. There were two complex, interesting stories happening at the same time, slowly becoming interconnected. Plus, all the different ways the prison functioned, the humanness of it, was incredibly well done.

I’ve never read anything like this book. The complicated, interwoven plot layers, the wonderful characters, and the tense adventures happening on both ends made this an easy book to get through. It was a great reading experience that I hope you also get to enjoy!

Reviewed by: Lauren Z.