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SDCC14: Rulers of the Realm win at a most epic fantasy book panel

L to R: Abercrombie, Grossman, Gabaldon, Martin, Rothfuss
L to R: Abercrombie, Grossman, Gabaldon, Martin, Rothfuss

The second epic fantasy book panel Lytherus attended at San Diego Comic Con this year was titled Rulers of the Realm. This was the panel for fantasy book fandoms, to be sure!  The all-star lineup consisted of Joe Abercrombie (Half a King), Lev Grossman (Magicians Trilogy), Diana Gabaldon (Outlander), George R. R. Martin (Game of Thrones), and Patrick Rothfuss (The Kingkiller Chronicle). The MC was Ali T. Kokman of Barnes & Noble, and he was a lively host to this lively panel.

Ali started out talking about how every story needs characters and setting. However, these panelists up the ante with theirs. He wanted to know: what’s their approach to world-building? Joe kicked it off, saying his approach is similar to others: he makes stuff up. He suggested you do a lot of “research”, as in read stuff. He likes a lot of historical non-fiction to provide authenticity. Diana decided to write historical fiction because she’s a historical researcher. There’s lots more to steal with real history (this got a good laugh). George said he does the same, and just throws out what he doesn’t want. Lev starts with normal and then defiles and degrades every part (ha!).  Pat added to these ideas, saying that he’s written things he thought he made up and then fans send links asking if those comparisons were deliberate. “I’m clever, I take credit for accidents” (lots of laughing with this one!). He also is a huge advocate for writing what you know, and that half of deciding what to do is deciding what not to do; basically his reaction to what pisses him off is his book.

For the second question Ali wanted to know what, aside from movies, assists with writing. Joe said maps are good. George added that writers need to be careful however, because then you need to fill them in. And don’t even get him started on the world map. Lots of chuckles were had as he regaled the audience with his personal story regarding this, and how he had the hardest time naming mountains. Pat likes special paper and colored pencils. He also asks lots of questions. Lev got a lot of laughs when he said has a passive-aggressive relationship with maps, as his wife’s ex-boyfriend creates them. Diana took a different approach, saying that she needs a kernel: an idea, a sentence, and her process is to develop off of that. She then describes how she got a scene in one of her books and describes the thistle goblet and cold winter afternoon (it was amazing to see her train of thought and how one led right to the next). George brought it back to maps, talking about Tolkien’s maps, how we get this detailed map of the Shire, and then once they leave you realize just how small it really is. Tolkien pulled the rug out, in a sense.

epic2At this point Pat brought up an interesting thought. He said the main question you should be asking yourself is why am I doing a map? You should think about what purpose it serves. Tolkien did languages, for example, because he was a huge language guy.Everyone is a geek for something, you should revel in your geekery because that’s what will be the most interesting. Pat then provided his personal example of geekery: currency. It’s really prevalent in his books, because he’s really interested in it.

The next question was about writing. Ali wanted to know who is their first reader? Diana said she writes for herself, so technically she’s her first reader, but her husband of 42 years will read, as she trusts him. She said it’s good to have a first reader you trust, but make sure you know what you trust them for. Joe echoed this, also saying he writes for himself, and if the people like it, awesome. He said you should cover your own interests; as soon as you write “out”, you’re doomed. Lev said his wife reads for him, she’s way smarter than he is. But he said also he writes for himself, he’s an asshole and will be tough on himself. He’s a grumpy reader, so he’s tough. George added to the general idea, saying he’s known writers writing the trends vs. the stories they lose themselves in, and it doesn’t work. And Pat’s right, you need to write your obsessions. George loves heraldry and food. Pat added that you hope your interests will catch on. He then said his first reader situation is really different than most. He had 2-300 beta readers for his first book. It’s good to have smart people read your book over writers, but he wants general people. Other people know lots of things about everything else beyond writing. It’s part of his therapy (ha!), he’s obsessive about getting feedback. Joe said he couldn’t do more than two readers at a time. The current book had four editors and that was a lot for him. But Lev said that he has around twenty-five beta readers because of reading about Pat’s way of doing things on his blog. Diana said you should always ask the experts. For example, if you cut a leg off, find out how to amputate a leg, etc.

For the last question Ali asked them what’s the toughest thing with writing? Diana said inertia. The longer you wait, the harder to get back into it. When stuck, write anyway. Joe said with a laugh that with the first and last sentence he’s awesome. Otherwise he thinks he sucks. But he said don’t get down on yourself.

There were some great audience questions, but one of them referenced Jane Austin and wanted to know their understanding of love and how they explore healthy and unhealthy relationships. Pat got a lot of laughs when he said that he’s explored a lot of unhealthy relationships. He said to make a lot of mistakes early on, as we learn through failure. Without mistakes we don’t have motivation to evolve, so get out there and do crazy stuff. Lev said you can’t hold back, that fantasy is raw. Be very honest, which can be painful. Diana said Lev’s dead right, honesty is important. So is picking the right person (ha!).

One of the best things about this panel was the authors all listed books they’ve really enjoyed recently. Here’s the list:

Joe:  Annihilation, by Jeff Vandermeer.

Lev: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer

Diana: Phil Rickman’s crime novels, Pandaemonium by Chris Brookmyre

George: Classic fantasy like Jack Vance, Tolkien, and straight historical fiction like George MacDonald Fraser

Pat: Declare by Tim Powers

Lots of great info to chew on from this panel, especially if you’re a writer. These are some of the best, and it was great to hear what they had to say about their craft and the worlds they create. And be sure to check out some of their book recommendations!

Book News, Books, News

Excerpt From “The Winds of Winter,” The 6th Book in George R. R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” Series

Exciting news for fans of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series! Martin has posted a chapter online from the next book in the series, The Winds of Winter. 

Before you click and read, be aware that this chapter includes some major spoilers, including the fate of a character from A Dance With Dragons. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! If that doesn’t bother you, then you’re in for a treat, because some pretty significant stuff happens in this excerpt.

You can only access the chapter on Martin’s website, so click here to head on over!

 

Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

Holiday Recommendations 2011: Books

Last but not least on our Lytherus holiday recommendations for this year is the book list. Our staff readers have pulled their favorite books from this past year and pooled them into a list that has a little bit of everything, both old and new. This is definitely the place to look for suggestions for the bibliophile in your life!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Laini Taylor)

Published September 27th, 2011

Splendid writing and a unique story come together to create something truly magical in Daughter of Smoke and Bone: a book that makes the imagination sing.

Karou is a wildly talented, interestingly unique teen who is studying art at a school in Prague. Her life is relatively normal, except when Brimstone sends her on missions. Brimstone is her father, for all intents and purposes. But though she is human, he is not. He is a Chimera, a creature with both human and animal parts, and the missions he sends her on is for teeth, without ever telling her why. Having a curious nature and never getting answers gets old for Karou, though, and before she can stop herself she starts looking deeper into the unusual elements of her life, and why things are so secretive. And when she encounters a man unlike any she’s ever known, one who brings her to the brink of death, she has to re-examine what everything really means.

Laini taylor was nominated for a National Book Award with a previous book, so you’re in good hands. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is one of the most exceptional YA books to come out this year. Period. Click here for the Lytherus review!

 

Eon Series (Alison Goodman)

Eon Published August 31st, 2010

Eona Published April 19th, 2011

Is the book lover in your life looking for some awesome fantasy and a bad-ass kick-butt heroine? Eon and Eona are exactly what they need. This series is jam-packed with adventure, mystery, intrigue, romance, and magic – and amazing creativity.

Eon, a crippled twelve-year-old boy is really Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl pretending to be the former for one reason: to be chosen as a Dragoneye apprentice, who studies under one of twelve magical dragons. Only men are allowed, and even though she has a hidden gift (the ability to see the dragons in the spirit world) her sex automatically eliminates her. Even with a severe hip injury, Eon manages to make it all the way to the choosing round. When Eon makes it into the ring the unthinkable happens, which stirs up the world as everyone knows it presently and brings forth the past in a wonderful and unexpected way. However, amazing as this surprise is, the political and magical world is thrown upside down, leaving Eona smack dab in the middle of it all.

The way Eona’s story evolves through the two books is wonderful, and the fantasy elements are truly unique. This is a YA series any fantasy reader should enjoy!

Click here for a review.

 

Night Circus  (Erin Morgenstern)

Published September 13th, 2011

This book was one of those overnight success stories that we suspect to see continue rolling down hill picking up momentum and gathering fans on its way. Already Summit Entertainment (the production company behind the Twilight film franchise) has bought the rights for the motion picture.

The story revolves around Celia and Marco. As children they were drafted for their innate magical talents to be part of a game that will last the course of their lives. They do not know the rules. They do not know how to win. But they are bound by magic to continue pitting themselves against one another in order to survive. But the makers of the game had not counted on Celia and Marco becoming most stubbornly in love with one another. Their magical entries in the game become more like romantic gifts to one another as opposed to demonstrations of their superiority. But as time passes it becomes ever-more clear that only one can win.

You can read the full lytherus review of this book as well as preview the trailer here.

 

Star Wars: The Complete Vader (Ryder Windham and Peter Vilmur)

Published October 18th, 2011

In an extremely unfair twist of fate (and a printing error) Star Wars: The Complete Vader’s release date in the United States has been delayed since 2009. The wait is over (and we can stop being jealous of Canada and the UK, whose book release was not delayed for 2 years) because The Complete Vader is here and ready for some wrapping paper, a bow, and a cozy spot under the Christmas tree.

“This book is the definitive resource on the history, myth, and cultural impact Darth Vader has had, from his earliest development in the original trilogy to the newer stories revealed in comics and novels, all the way to his myriad appearances in every other conceivable medium, from commercials to clothing to bedspreads.” This book sure seems like a must-have for any Star Wars geeks in your life. It includes exclusive interviews and photographs from the Lucasfilm Archives. While originally $60.00, it can now be found on Amazon for about $35.00.

 

The Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy (Maggie Stiefvater)

Shiver published August 1st, 2009

Linger published July 13th, 2010

Forever published July 12th, 2011

The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater is a story of Grace and Sam, as they struggle to stay together. Sam changes into a wolf as winter draws near – but as the trilogy progresses, that might become the least of their worries. This series will surely be a treat for the readers of all ages, with its poetic language and interesting, believable characters. The story starts with Shiver and revolves around seventeen-year-old Grace who was always fascinated with the wolves looming on the edges of her backyard, the yellow-eyed wolf in particular. When she finds a wounded yellow-eyed boy on her back porch, the resemblance is unmistakable. As Grace is drawn into the world of wolves and their secrets, she must face the challenges of trying to stay with Sam. Sam, on the other hand, struggles to stay human, and at the same time, he has to come to terms with his responsibilities to the pack. The final book, Forever, is not your typical happy ending, yet it is extremely satisfying.

This series has a very truthful emotion to it, and every book is impossible to put down. Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style is simple and distinctive, as she creates a beautiful atmosphere and rich characters.

 

Arson (Estevan Vega)

Published May 25th, 2011

Arson is a boy like any other boy, except he has a secret. He can create fire, but his power carries grave consequences. Ever since the tragedy that changed his life, he has controlled this power.  Now, he has met a girl who has secrets of her own; a girl facing this world looking through the eyes of a mask. Arson is haunted by his past and is tortured physically and mentally by his present. This is a coming of age story for a two young misfits in a world that is indifferent, or outright hostile, to the social outcasts among us.

From the beginning of the story where Arson is holding himself underwater to his twisted relationship with his grandmother, this story delves into the darkest parts of love and despair. The added facet of terrifying powers on top of the segregation by other students for being new or different creates protangonists that you can’t help but root for. If any of you has ever felt like you were on of the alone or that you didn’t fit in with the mainstream, this book gives you a worst case with a strange twist of hope at the same time.

Estevan Vega’s writing style creates a world that feels unreal, but at the same time, it feels almost too real. He is definitely an author to keep an eye on. He will be providing the world with more outstanding fiction in the near future.

 

Rot and Ruin (Jonathan Maberry)

Published May 3rd, 2011

Welcome to the town of Mountainside, the only bastion of humanity against the ravening hordes of the undead. Benny Imura has just reached the age where he needs to find a job or face his rations being cut in half. With a distinct lack of enthusiasm, he decides to go to work with his brother as a professional zombie hunter. From facing the memories of the first night of the zombie apocalypse to their travels through the desolate lands teeming with the undead, the brothers must attempt to heal the gap between them and make a life for themselves in this new world. Follow their journey through the zombie infested world, and watch as they come to the realization that the worst thing out there isn’t the undead.

Jonathan Maberry puts together an amazing story of adolescence, adult roles, survival, and human nature. The focus of this zombie novel isn’t the undead; rather, it is a focus on survival and the horrors that members of the human race can visit on themselves. This is a story of how mankind will adapt to a world turned upside down, where not everyone is what they seem to be. Maberry delves into human nature that varies from total self-absorbed psychosis to the desire of most people to bury their heads in the sand rather than face the tough choices. The sequel to this story has been released and continues the journey of Benny and his brother Tom. Look for Dust & Decay in your nearest bookstore.

 

The Joe Ledger Novels (Jonathan Maberry)

Patient Zero published March 3rd, 2009

The Dragon Factory published March 2nd, 2010

The King of Plagues published March 29th, 2011

The first three books of the Joe Ledger Novels are Patient Zero, The Dragon Factory, and The King of Plagues. Joe Ledger is a former Baltimore police officer who is recruited into a government organization that combats the unimaginable threats to the nation. In Patient Zero, Joe and his team of specialists (Echo Team) are faced with a terrorist who is using pharmaceutical research to create a plague of the undead.  In The Dragon Factory, a rogue scientist threatens to continue the work of Hitler by viral and genetic genocide. The scientist creates a race of supersoldiers to spread violence in terror as well as distract the team from the real threats. Finally, in The King of Plagues, Joe must combat a secret organization that epitomizes the Ten Plagues of Egypt and are planning on creating a worldwide state of anarchy for their own profit. Headed up by one of the antagonists in a previous novel, this novel ties up the loose ends from the first two books.

Jonathan Maberry is amazing with his scope of research and detail for key plot points in his novels. From prion diseases to genetic research, from the workings of Nazism to the belief systems of Muslem extremists, Maberry has done his homework. His attention to detail, while not overbearing, provides the perfect counterpoint to his development of this characters. All in all, the Joe Ledger Series is an amazing series and any horror/scifi reader would enjoy these stories.

 

Magic’s Pawn: The Last Herald-Mage Series Book 1 (Mercedes Lackey)

Published June 6th, 1989

In Magic’s Pawn, an ancient age in the history of Valdemar comes to life—before Herald Vanyel Ashkevron was the Legendary Herald-Mage Vanyel, he is the eldest son of a country nobleman, but he is unlike his brothers and not pleasing to his father- handsome in stead of tough, learned instead of strong, and conscious about his looks, and secretly dreaming of being a bard. His life changes abruptly when his father sends him to the capital, Haven, to live with his aunt Savil, a Herald of Valdemar, one of those few people who protect the country with their magic. Life is not as he expects there; falling in love with Savil’s star pupil, discovering the wonders of Heralds and Companions- but this life soon leads to unimaginable loss, terrifying powers, and waking up from a magic induced coma to find his life has flipped upside down forever.

If you’ve ever read anything in Mercedes Lackey’s Herald Compaion series, you might have come across the name ‘Vanyel’ a few times, mentioned in whispers as the last but most powerful Herald-Mage in the history of Valdemar. Itching to know about his past? Wondering how he became the last Mage? You’ll definitely discover a powerful trilogy that tells incredible stories of love, loss, revenge, what it means to find a soulmate, and what it takes to become the ultimate selfless person.

 

Plague of the Dead: The Morningstar Strain (Z. A. Recht)

Published December 29th, 2009

The end begins with a viral outbreak unlike anything mankind has ever encountered before. The infected are subject to delirium, fever, a dramatic increase in violent behavior, and a one-hundred percent mortality rate. But it doesn’t end there. The victims return from death to walk the earth. When a massive military operation fails to contain the living dead it escalates into a global pandemic. In one fell swoop, the necessities of life become much more basic. Gone are petty everyday concerns. Gone are the amenities of civilized life. Yet a single law of nature remains: Live, or die. Kill, or be killed. On one side of the world, a battle-hardened general surveys the remnants of his command: a young medic, a veteran photographer, a brash Private, and dozens of refugees, all are his responsibility—all thousands of miles from home. Back in the United States, an Army colonel discovers the darker side of Morningstar virus and begins to collaborate with a well-known journalist to leak the information to the public…and the Morningstar Saga has begun.

Ever wanted to read a zombie apocalypse novel that tells of the outbreak’s beginning? How the world spins so out of control that it leads to the end of civilization as you know it? The Morningstar Strain starts out with a fast paced battle between the living and the dead, with characters you feel for just as you would feel for anyone else (some you’ll hate, others you’ll cheer for as they escape from danger). It’s smart, funny, insightful into several kinds of worlds- government, Red Cross, military, and civilian minds- and makes you wonder if this is exactly how we’d all react if we woke up to a world covered in flesh-desiring zombies.

 

Rise Again (Ben Tripp)

Published October 26th, 2010

Sheriff Danielle Adelman, a troubled war veteran, thinks she has all the problems she can handle after her kid sister runs away from home. But when disease-stricken refugees from Los Angeles overrun her small mountain community, Danny realizes her problems have only just begun—with the end of the world. When the streets are choked with dead, the living grieve. When the dead begin to move, the living hope. And when the dead begin to feed, the living fight to survive. Because if you die…You rise again.

A book that has yet to rise to the top ten best sellers, it’s truly one of those cool discoveries when you just pick blindly from the shelves of a bookstore. With a definite modern feel and outlook in the written world (the war in the Middle East is mentioned more than a few times), it’s certainly different from reading something that doesn’t have an obvious timeline. Who knows? This could be happening on the other side of the country, and you wouldn’t know it until it’s too late. Rather, that’s how this story is told. A book to curl up with in the dead of night with the curtains closed, and your favorite baseball bat nearby (just in case).

(Don’t like being seen toting around a zombie book? Ben Tripp’s website has hilarious downloads that you can print, cut, and stick over the cover- like Rise Again, the cookbook, featuring bread!)

 

Harry Potter: Page to Screen (Bob McCabe)

Published October 25th, 2011

Ever wanted a fun, in-depth look into the creation of the Harry Potter movies? Ever wondered how they adapted the books for the big screen? Well, the answers to those questions and much more can be found in Harry Potter: Page to Screen by Bob McCabe, the complete story of how the films were made.

Author Bob McCabe takes us on a spellbinding journey, and readers can learn so much about how much work went into making these films the very best they could be. Learning more about the cast and crew also makes this a rewarding read, as well as simply being able to hold the complete history of the Harry Potter films in your hands. For many die-hard fans, it is a dream come true.

This incredibly informative, highly entertaining read is a must have for anyone truly wishing to further immerse themselves in the world of Harry Potter.

 

Throat (R. A. Nelson)

Published January 25th, 2011

Emma has epilepsy. It is basically ruining her teenage years, making her a social pariah and even killing her chances at driving like every other normal teen her age. One night, in a fit of frustration, she takes the family car and escapes only to crash, driving the car off the road into the woods. Scared and lost, she wanders to a nearby cabin, where she asks a dark mysterious stranger for help. Of course he isn’t as he seems, and next thing Emma remembers is waking up in the hospital, having no idea of how she got there. The stranger was a vampire, and she is starting to get his traits. As she realizes what is happening to her, and discovers that the baddie is still after her, she runs to save her family. She ends up on a nearby NASA base, which she uses as her new home while she can figure out exactly what is happening to her and how to stay alive in the process.

Yes, this book has vampires, but don’t run screaming in fear of overkill. This book is incredibly creative and intelligent, making it a truly engaging read. The author works at NASA, so the scientific accuracy adds even more to the story. Definitely worth a look-see.

Click here for a review.

 

Leviathan series (Scott Westerfeld)

Leviathan published October 6th, 2009

Behemoth published October 5th, 2010

Goliath published September 20th, 2011

One of the most engaging and delightful series to come out in recent years concluded this fall, and it was definitely worth the wait. Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy is filled with innovative world-building and deep, well-developed characters.

The story starts in Leviathan where the Clankers and the Darwinists are at war. The The Clankers are machine-driven people (think hard-core machines, like two-legged walkers stopming across the countryside) And in this world Darwin didn’t just discover evolution; he discovered DNA and the ability to fabricate animals into amazing hybrid creatures that replace machines (hence the Darwinists) The series starts with Alek, the son of Austria-Hungary’s Archduke Ferdinand, running for his life. Then the story jumps to the other main character, a Scottish teen girl by the name of Deryn who is disguising herself as a boy so she can join the British Air Service. She ends up serving on the Leviathan, a giant floating zeppelin-like creature based on a living whale. Alek and Deryn’s worlds eventually collide, and as the series continues the fate of the world in the midst of the Great War is in their hands.

If you’re interested in this at all, check out the review for Leviathan, which goes more in-depth. This series has so many layers it’s hard to put them all in a small blurb. They are some of the most wonderful books to come out in YA fantasy/scifi in the past few years. Click on the titles for the reviews of Leviathan, Behemoth, and Goliath

 

A Song of Ice and Fire (George R. R. Martin)

A Game of Thrones published August 1st, 1996

A Clash of Kings published February 2nd, 1999

A Storm of Swords published October 31st, 2000

A Feast of Crows published November 8th, 2005

A Dance of Dragons published July 12th, 2011

If you haven’t heard the name George R. R. Martin, you need to learn it. He is pretty much the superstar high fantasy author at the moment, and one of the reasons is the first book in his Song of Ice and Fire series, A Game of Thrones, has been turned into a stellar, super-successful series on HBO.

What’s it about? That’s a huge question, and would require an epic answer to describe all the weaving and intrigue in this fantastic series. The best way to start is at the beginning (obviously), so here’s a summary of book one: Robert is King after having usurped another, years prior. He journeys to the north to request that his companion from the war, Eddard (called Ned) be his Hand, his voice to the people. Ned does not want to go, but you can’t exactly refuse the king, so with a heavy heart and doubts in his soul, he travels to the king’s city to take up his position. As usual, things are never as easy as they seem. The king’s wife is as devious as she is beautiful, and Ned suspects her of working to get her son on the throne.

The only surviving heirs to the old throne are over the sea. The brother, Viserys, is marrying his sister Daenerys off to the leader of the rugged, primitive horse lords, to guarantee himself an army to fight with when he goes to reclaim the throne. But this is really Dany’s story, and we travel with her as she adjusts to this alien way of life, and what it means to her future and the future of her bloodline.

And then there is the Wall. A huge man-made wall of ice, not too far north of Winterfell, cutting the northern wild lands off completely from the civilized places below. Something strange is afoot, things stirring that haven’t been seen in ages, and all signs say it can’t be good.

This is just the beginning of this epic series. It’s not finished, but the first five books have come out, and since they are all practically the size of a phone book, it should keep any fantasy lover entertained for a while.

 

Book News, Books, News

New Book Releases, Week of November 20th, 2011

Here are this week’s new fantasy, scifi, and horror book releases:

Released Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

 Hearts of Smoke & Steam (Society of Steam #2), by Andrew P. Mayer

Sir Dennis Darby has been murdered, the Automaton has been destroyed, and Sarah Stanton has turned her back on a life of privilege and comfort to try and find her way in the unforgiving streets of New York. But Lord Eschaton, the villain behind all these events, isn’t finished with her yet. His plans to bring his apocalyptic vision of the future to the world are moving forward, but to complete his scheme he needs the clockwork heart that Sarah still holds.

But she has her own plans for the Automaton’s clockwork heart—Sarah is trying rebuild her mechanical friend, and when she is attacked by The Children of Eschaton, the man comes to her rescue may be the one to make her dreams come true. Emelio Armando is a genius inventor who had hoped to leave his troubles behind when he and his sister left Italy for a life of anonymity in the New World. Now he finds himself falling in love with the fallen society girl, but he is rapidly discovering just how powerful the forces of villainy aligned against her are, and that fulfilling her desires means opening the door to a world of danger that could destroy everything he has built.

THE SOCIETY OF STEAM takes place in a Victorian New York powered by the discovery of Fortified Steam, a substance that allows ordinary men to wield extraordinary abilities, and grant powers that can corrupt gentlemen of great moral strength. The secret behind this amazing substance is something that wicked brutes will gladly kill for, and one that Sarah must try and protect, no matter what the cost.

Borderlands: The Fallen, by John Shirley

WHAT KIND OF MAN MAKES A LIVING IN HELL?

His name’s Roland. Soldier class, a former mercenary, he’s on a full-time mission to scrape a living out of the most dangerous planet in the galaxy.

Is he qualified? He’s well armed, he’s ruthless, and he’s tougher than skag hide. And, oh yeah—he’s strapped with some of the most exotic weaponry this side of the Vault, not to mention possessing fists like chunks of steel.

Zac Finn and his wife and young son had better get on the right side of Roland, because a stopover in orbit has turned into a nightmarish fall to the unforgiving landscape of the Borderlands. Zac hopes to find a strange new alien treasure in the Borderlands to turn his down-spiraling life around. But his wife, Marla, and his son, Cal, just want to survive, and reunite, because catastrophe has left them separated by hundreds of klicks. Their chances aren’t good . . . and Roland is all that stands between them and the planet’s kill-crazed Psychos and murderous bandits—not to mention the grotesque primals, giant wyrm squids, insane tunnel rats, voracious skags, brutal bruisers, and ruthless mercs. . . .

An original novel set in the universe of the Rated M for Mature video game created by Gearbox Software and published by 2K Games.

Micro: A Novel, by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston

Three men are found dead in the locked second-floor office of a Honolulu building, with no sign of struggle except for the ultrafine, razor-sharp cuts covering their bodies. The only clue left behind is a tiny bladed robot, nearly invisible to the human eye.

In the lush forests of Oahu, groundbreaking technology has ushered in a revolutionary era of biological prospecting. Trillions of microorganisms, tens of thousands of bacteria species, are being discovered; they are feeding a search for priceless drugs and applications on a scale beyond anything previously imagined.

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, seven graduate students at the forefront of their fields are recruited by a pioneering microbiology start-up. Nanigen MicroTechnologies dispatches the group to a mysterious lab in Hawaii, where they are promised access to tools that will open a whole new scientific frontier.

But once in the Oahu rain forest, the scientists are thrust into a hostile wilderness that reveals profound and surprising dangers at every turn. Armed only with their knowledge of the natural world, they find themselves prey to a technology of radical and unbridled power. To survive, they must harness the inherent forces of nature itself.

An instant classic, Micro pits nature against technology in vintage Crichton fashion. Completed by visionary science writer Richard Preston, this boundary-pushing thriller melds scientific fact with pulse-pounding fiction to create yet another masterpiece of sophisticated, cutting-edge entertainment.

Lightspeed: Year One, by Stephen King, Orson Scott Card, George R. R. Martin, et al.

Lightspeed (www.lightspeedmagazine.com) is the critically-acclaimed, online science fiction magazine edited by bestselling anthologist John Joseph Adams. Lightspeed publishes all types of science fiction, from near-future, sociological soft sf, to far-future, star-spanning hard sf, and anything and everything in between. Each month, Lightspeed features a mix of originals and reprints, from a variety of authors – from the bestsellers and award-winners you already know to the best new voices you haven”t heard of yet. Now, in Lightspeed: Year One, you will find all of the fiction published in Lightspeed”s first year, from new stories such as Nebula Award finalists, Vylar Kaftan”s “I”m Alive, I Love You, I”ll See You in Reno” and “Arvies” by Adam-Troy Castro, and Carrie Vaughn”s Hugo Award-nominee “Amaryllis,” to classic reprints by Stephen King, Ursula K. Le Guin, George R. R. Martin, and more.

New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird, by Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Cherie Priest, et al.

For more than 80 years H.P. Lovecraft has inspired writers of supernatural fiction, artists, musicians, filmmakers, and gaming. His themes of cosmic indifference, the utter insignificance of humankind, minds invaded by the alien, and the horrors of history – written with a pervasive atmosphere of unexplainable dread – remain not only viable motifs, but are more relevant than ever as we explore the mysteries of a universe in which our planet is infinitesimal and climatic change is overwhelming it. In the first decade of the twenty-first century the best supernatural writers no longer imitate Lovecraft, but they are profoundly influenced by the genre and the mythos he created. New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird presents some of the best of this new Lovecraftian fiction – bizarre, subtle, atmospheric, metaphysical, psychological, filled with strange creatures and stranger characters – eldritch, unsettling, evocative, and darkly appealing.

Somewhere Beneath Those Waves, by Sarah Monette

The first non-themed collection of critically acclaimed author Sarah Monette”s best short fiction. To paraphrase Hugo-award winner Elizabeth Bear’s introduction: “Monette’s prose is lapidary, her ideas are fantastical and chilling. She has studied the craft of fantastic fiction from the pens of masters and mistresses of the genre. She is a poet of the awkward and the uncertain, exalter of the outcast, the outre, and the downright weird. There is nothing else quite like Sarah Monette’s fiction.”

 

 

 

Bad Blood (House of Comarre), by Kristen Painter

Samhain approaches, bringing with it the final melding of the mortal and othernatural worlds. No one knows just how much power the night holds…

Violent murders occur in Paradise City as counterfeit comarré are systematically hunted. The police and the Kubai Mata have more than enough trouble to keep themselves occupied. As war erupts at home, Malkolm and Chrysabelle head to New Orleans to recover the Ring of Sorrows. Chrysabelle is forced to make a life and death decision and will realize that her relationship to Malkolm may have fatal consequences.

The clock is ticking . . .

 

Saints Astray, by Jacqueline Carey

Fellow orphans, amateur vigilantes, and members of the Santitos, Loup Garron-the fugitive daughter of a genetically engineered “wolf man”-and Pilar Ecchevarria grew up in the military zone of Outpost 12, formerly known as Santa Olivia. But now they’re free, and they want to help the rest of the Santitos escape. During a series of escapades, they discover that Miguel, Loup’s former sparring partner and reprobate surrogate brother, has escaped from Outpost 12 and is testifying on behalf of its forgotten citizens-at least until he disappears from protective custody. Honor drives Loup to rescue Miguel, even though entering the U.S could mean losing her liberty. Pilar vows to help her.

It will take a daring and absurd caper to extricate Miguel from the mess he’s created but Loup is prepared to risk everything… and this time she has help.

Soul Screamers Volume One: My Soul to Lose, My Soul to Take, My Soul to Save, by Rachel Vincent

It starts with a scream….

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent’s compelling Soul Screamers series keeps getting better—here, for the first time, the original stories are compiled into one special volume….

My Soul to Lose

—The prequel: never before in print!—

Kaylee is just your average girl shopping at the mall with friends—until a terrified scream bursts from her that cannot be stopped. Taken to a hospital ward, will she be able to save her mind—and her life?

My Soul to Take

She’s always felt different, but now Kaylee discovers why. The screams that cannot be denied mean that someone near her will die—and she can never save them. Because saving one life means taking another….

My Soul to Save

Going on dates with her boyfriend is still new to Kaylee. But when the singer of the band they’re seeing dies onstage and Kaylee doesn’t scream, she knows something crazy is going on. Soon she discovers souls can indeed be sold….

Released Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Theft of Swords (Riyria Revelations), by Michael J. Sullivan

THEY KILLED THE KING. THEY PINNED IT ON TWO MEN. THEY CHOSE POORLY.
Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles–until they are hired to pilfer a famed sword. What appears to be just a simple job finds them framed for the murder of the king and trapped in a conspiracy that uncovers a plot far greater than the mere overthrow of a tiny kingdom.

Can a self-serving thief and an idealistic swordsman survive long enough to unravel the first part of an ancient mystery that has toppled kings and destroyed empires in order to keep a secret too terrible for the world to know?

And so begins the first tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.

When author Michael J. Sullivan self-published the first books of his Riyria Revelations, they rapidly became ebook bestsellers. Now, Orbit is pleased to present the complete series for the first time in bookstores everywhere.

BOOKS IN THE RIYRIA REVELATIONS
Theft of Swords (The Crown Conspiracy & Avempartha)
Rise of Empire (Nyphron Rising & The Emerald Storm)
Heir of Novron (Wintertide & Percepliquis)

Released Thursday, November 24th, 2011

In the Forests of the Night: The Goblin Wars Book 2, by Kersten Hamilton

The battle against goblinkind continues . . . but which side will Teagan be on?

Teagan, Finn, and Aiden have made it out of Mag Mell alive, but the Dark Man’s forces are hot on their heels. Back in Chicago, Tea’s goblin cousins show up at her school, sure she will come back to Mag Mell, as goblin blood is never passive once awoken. Soon she will belong to Fear Doirich and join them. In the meantime, they are happy to entertain themselves by trying to seduce, kidnap, or kill Tea’s family and friends. Tea knows she doesn’t have much time left, and she refuses to leave Finn or her family to be tortured and killed. A wild Stormrider, born to rule and reign, is growing stronger inside her. But as long as she can hold on, she’s still Teagan Wylltson, who plans to be a veterinarian and who heals the sick and hurting. The disease that’s destroying her—that’s destroying them all—has a name: Fear Doirich. And Teagan Wylltson is not going to let him win.

Unleashed (Wolf Spring Chronicles), by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie

Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie, the New York Times bestselling authors of the Wicked series, have created an entirely new trilogy with the passion of Twilight and the grandeur of Fallen. The Wolf Springs Chronicles introduces readers to a town of secrets and the new girl who’s about to start believing in werewolves.

 

 

 

 

Descriptions from Amazon.com

 

Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews, Comics/Graphic Novels, Reviews

“A Game of Thrones” Is Now in Comic Form, and it is a Lovely Addition to Martin’s World

The first thought in my head when I heard about the new A Game of Thrones comic was,”Way to milk a series already!”  The books are ridiculously successful, the HBO television show was a hit, and now, jumping on the popularity wagon, a comic has come out. However, having read it and thought about it a bit, my tune has changed. I think this comic is a great way for people who are curious about the series, but are intimidated by the size and depth of the books, to explore the wonderful world that Martin has created.

Since I read and reviewed the book not that long ago, I am not going to re-hash out the basics of the story, but rather jump right into the comic. Issue #1 starts at the beginning of the story in the novel, with the little prelude that happens on the other side of the wall. The comic then continues through all the different beginning chapters of the book, switching between the Lannisters and the Targaryens and setting up the scenes for future events. Since it is just the first issue, we are only barely getting into the story, but it is enough to captivate a reader. Within the few pages of the comic we meet a scary frozen north monster, See Eddard Stark cut off a head and take home some wolf puppies for his kids, and discuss the king’s impending visit with his wife at the heart tree. The comic then continues into Daenerys and Viserys discussing her upcoming marriage to the dothraki warrior Khal Drogo. There is some nice back story here, about their past. The issue ends with Daenerys meeting her future husband.

The first thing I noticed, even before the images, is the fact that the narrator voice is quoted verbatim from the book, mentioning all the main thoughts that aren’t spoken sections. These narrative transitions bring Martin’s voice to the comic and keep the feel of his writing.

At first the transition between the different character stories was confusing, as there was no stop or block in the pages to show that I was moving on to another set of characters. But upon closer inspection, I noticed that the narration boxes changed colors, depending on what section I was reading. Now that I know, that will help me a lot for future issues. Perhaps this is a common comic thing, but since I’m a newbie comic reader, as far as that goes, I thought I’d mention it for those of you out there curious about the story who aren’t as familiar with comics.

The art by Tommy Patterson and the colors by Ivan Nunes were such a wonderful addition to the tale I am so familiar with. I think I might even like the comic a bit better than the actual book, for a quick catch-me-up, since it is so vividly illustrated. The shadowed faces and intense expressions added so much to the words, and I found myself once again getting swept up in the story that I loved. And the color tones added way more than I expected, the cold segments being an icy iron grey, Ned’s parts a rich hunter green and brown, and Daenerys’s parts beautiful warm tans.

The comic came to an end much too quickly for my taste (this is why I’m only now starting to get into comics, as I’m way too impatient to wait for the next issue!), but I enjoyed the set up for future story lines, and I’ll be looking forward to reading the next issue.

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 Borders.com and descriptions/reviews from Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book News, Books, News

New Releases, Week of June 19th, 2011

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

Released Monday, June 20th, 2011

Star Wars Character Encyclopedia, by DK Publishing

The Star Wars Character Encyclopedia is the definitive illustrated guide to Luke Skywalker, Jabba the Hut, and all of your favorite characters of the Star Wars galaxy! Feel the force as you flip through pages of profiles of all your favorite characters from the Star Wars galaxy. With stat boxes, expert text, incredible movie stills, and more than 200 profiles, this is book is a must have for Star Wars fans of all ages.

 

 

 

Released Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Shadow’s Lure, by Jon Sprunk

The unforgiving Northlands . . .

In Othir, he was at the top of the food chain—an assassin beyond compare, a dark shadow in the night. But Caim left that life behind when he helped an empress claim her throne. And now his past has come calling again.

Searching for the truth behind the murder and disappearance of his parents, Caim discovers a land in thrall to the Shadow. Haunted by temptations from the Other Side, he becomes mired in a war he does not want to fight.

But there are some things a son of the Shadow cannot ignore, and some fights from which he can’t run. In this battle, all of Caim’s strength and skill won’t be enough.
For none can resist the Shadow’s Lure.

Sword of Fire and Sea: The Chaos Knight, book 1, by Erin Hoffman

Three generations ago Captain Vidarian Rulorat’s great-grandfather gave up an imperial commission to commit social catastrophe by marrying a fire priestess. For love, he unwittingly doomed his family to generations of a rare genetic disease that follows families who cross elemental boundaries. Now Vidarian, the last surviving member of the Rulorat family, struggles to uphold his family legacy, and finds himself chained to a task as a result of the bride price his great-grandfather paid: the Breakwater Agreement, a seventy-year-old alliance between his family and the High Temple of Kara’zul, domain of the fire priestesses.

The priestess Endera has called upon Vidarian to fulfill his family’s obligation by transporting a young fire priestess named Ariadel to a water temple far to the south, through dangerous pirate-controlled territory. A journey perilous in the best of conditions is made more so by their pursuers: rogue telepathic magic-users called the Vkortha who will stop at nothing to recover Ariadel, who has witnessed their forbidden rites.

Together, Vidarian and Ariadel will navigate more than treacherous waters: Imperial intrigue, a world that has been slowly losing its magic for generations, secrets that the priestesshoods have kept for longer, the indifference of their elemental goddesses, gryphons—once thought mythical—now returning to the world, and their own labyrinthine family legacies. Vidarian finds himself at the intersection not only of the world’s most volatile elements, but of colliding universes, and the ancient and alien powers that lurk between them.

Fort Freak (Wild Cards), by George R. R. Martin

In 1946, an alien virus that rewrites human DNA was accidentally unleashed in the skies over New York City. It killed ninety percent of those it infected. Nine percent survived, mutated into tragically deformed creatures. And one percent gained superpowers. The Wild Cards shared-universe series, created and edited by New York Times #1 bestseller George R. R. Martin (called “the American Tolkien” by Time), is the tale of the history of the world since then—and of the heroes among the one percent.

Now, in the latest Wild Cards mosaic novel, we get to know the hardbitten world of Manhattan’s Fifth Precinct—or “Fort Freak,” as cops and malefactors alike call the cop-shop where every other desk sergeant, detective, and patrol officer is more than human.

Featuring original work by writers such as Cherie Priest, author of the bestselling Boneshaker; Paul Cornell, Hugo–nominated comic book andDoctor Who writer; David Anthony Durham, winner of 2009’s John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer; and many others, Fort Freak is one of the strongest offerings yet in the ongoing Wild Cards project.

The Plain Man, by Steve Englehart

Magick and reality collide in a new, fast-paced Max August thriller

Max August is not invulnerable, but he never ages—a gift he earned while studying under the legendary alchemist Cornelius Agrippa. August, now an alchemist himself, is using his magickal abilities to fight the right-wing conspiracy known as the FRC, which seeks to control all aspects of society. At the top of the FRC is a nine-member cabal, each member of which is a powerful force in one area of society, such as media, politics, finance…and wizardry.

When Max learns that two members of the cabal are en route to Wickr, a Burning Man–like festival held in the American Southwest, he stages a plan to gather information from them and, he hopes turn one member against the others. Max has been careful not to leave a trail, but the cabal sees all, and an “accident” at a nuclear waste facility just 100 miles from the festival would send a clear message to those who oppose the FRC. Max may be timeless, but he is running out of time to stop the FRC and save millions of lives.

The Dragons of Chiril: A Novel, by Donita K. Paul

Before DragonSpell, on a different continent and a different time, a young emerlindian’s desperate decision threatens to disrupt the foundation of the world.

Tipper has been caring for her family’s estate for years now, ever since her father disappeared, making a living by selling off his famous artwork. Then she learns that three statues she sold were carved from an ancient foundation stone, and the fabric of her reality is crumbling.

She must free her father and save the world. But she can’t do it alone.

Her ragtag band of adventurers includes Beccaroon, a giant parrot; Bealomondore, an aristocratic young artist; a handsome dragonkeeper prince; the Wizard Fenworth; and the tumanhofer librarian Librettowit. Together they travel through valleys and kingdoms and consort with purveyors of good and agents of evil to find and reunite the missing statues. Will they learn to rely on Wulder’s grace and guidance along the way?

The Book of Dragon, by Steven Brust

The first seven of Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos novels have long been in print from Ace Books in a set of three trade paperback omnibuses. Now Tor, publisher of the series from book eight on, continues the series of omnibuses by putting Dragon and Issola into print in that format.

In Dragon, Vlad finds himself in the last place any self-respecting assassin wants to be: the army. Worse, he’s in the middle of an apocalyptic battle between two sorcerous armies, and everyone expects him to perform a role that they won’t explain. Vlad may kill people for a living, but this is ridiculous. All he’s got to rely on are his wits…and a smart-mouthed winged lizard.

In Issola, Vlad’s aristocratic friends Morrolan and Aliera have disappeared, and according to the eldritch (but affable) Sethra Lavode, they may be in the hands of the Jenoine—the mysterious beings who made the world of the Dragaera Empire and its surroundings, and who may have come from somewhere else. Oh, well, what’s life without the occasional cosmic battle with beings who control time and space?

Dead Rules, by Randy Russell

Till death

Jana Webster and Michael Haynes were in love. They were destined to be together forever.

Do

But Jana’s destiny was fatally flawed. And now she’s in Dead School, where Mars Dreamcote lurks in the back of the classroom, with his beguiling blue eyes, mysterious smile, and irresistibly warm touch.

Us

Michael and Jana were incomplete without each other. There was no room for Mars in Jana’s life—or death—story. Jana was sure Michael would rush to her side soon.

Part

But things aren’t going according to Jana’s plan. So Jana decides to do whatever it takes to make her dreams come true—no matter what rules she has to break.

Rex Riders, by J. P. Carlson

When 14-year-old Zeke Calhoun goes to live at his Uncle Jesse’s broken-down ranch in Texas, he discovers that he has a natural way with horses and loves to ride. But this is nothing compared to what he finds in a riverbed near the ranch: a mysterious stranger, riddled with bullets, lying face down in the dirt, and a juvenile T-Rex keeping a pack of hungry wolves at bay. Where did the stranger come from? Who shot him and why? While Zeke saves the stranger and sets out to answer these questions, he finds something much more interesting—a bridle in the dinosaur’s mouth. From that moment on he knows he is destined to ride the T-Rex. What he does not know, however, is that his actions will set off a chain of events plunging him into an incredible adventure, one that will lead to the discovery of a deadly alliance between Earth and a prehistoric world that could threaten the very fabric of both.

A Need So Beautiful, by Suzanne Young

We all want to be remembered. Charlotte’s destiny is to be forgotten.

Charlotte’s best friend thinks Charlotte might be psychic. Her boyfriend thinks she’s cheating on him. But Charlotte knows what’s really wrong: She is one of the Forgotten, a kind of angel on earth who feels the Need—a powerful, uncontrollable draw to help someone, usually a stranger.

But Charlotte never wanted this responsibility. What she wants is to help her best friend, whose life is spiraling out of control. She wants to lie in her boyfriend’s arms forever. But as the Need grows stronger, it begins to take a dangerous toll on Charlotte. And who she was, is, and will become—her mark on this earth, her very existence—is in jeopardy of disappearing completely.

Charlotte will be forced to choose: Should she embrace her fate as a Forgotten, a fate that promises to rip her from the lives of those she loves forever? Or is she willing to fight against her destiny—no matter how dark the consequences?

Haunting Violet, by Alyxandra Harvey

Violet Willoughby doesn’t believe in ghosts. But they believe in her. After spending years participating in her mother’s elaborate ruse as a fraudulent medium, Violet is about as skeptical as they come in all matters supernatural. Now that she is being visited by a very persistent ghost, one who suffered a violent death, Violet can no longer ignore her unique ability. She must figure out what this ghost is trying to communicate, and quickly because the killer is still on the loose.

Afraid of ruining her chance to escape her mother’s scheming through an advantageous marriage, Violet must keep her ability secret. The only person who can help her is Colin, a friend she’s known since childhood, and whom she has grown to love. He understands the true Violet, but helping her on this path means they might never be together. Can Violet find a way to help this ghost without ruining her own chance at a future free of lies?

Breath of Angel (The Angelaeon Circle), by Karyn Henley

The stranger’s cloak had fallen back, and with it, a long, white, blood-stained wing.

When Melaia, a young priestess, witnesses the gruesome murder of a stranger in the temple courtyard, age-old legends recited in song suddenly come to life. She discovers wings on the stranger, and the murderer takes the shape of both a hawk and a man.

Angels. Shape-shifters. Myths and stories—until now.

Melaia finds herself in the middle of a blood feud between two immortal brothers who destroyed the stairway to heaven, stranding angels in the earthly realm. When Melaia becomes a target, she finds refuge with a band of angels attempting to restore the stairway. But the restoration is impossible without settling an ancient debt—the “breath of angel, blood of man,” a payment that involves Melaia’s heart, soul, and destiny.

Shadowcry (The Secrets of Wintercraft), by Jenna Burtenshaw

The Night of Souls—when the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest—is only days away.

Albion is at war . . . and losing.

The wardens have descended, kidnapping innocent citizens for their army, but looking for one in particular.

And fifteen-year-old Kate Winters has just raised a blackbird from the dead.

As her home is torn apart by the wardens, Kate’s discovery that she is one of the Skilled—the rare people who can cross the veil between life and death—makes her the most hunted person in all of Albion. Only she can unlock the secrets of Wintercraft, the ancient book of dangerous knowledge. Captured and taken to the graveyard city of Fume—with its secret tunnels and underground villages, and where her own parents met their deaths ten years ago—Kate must harness her extraordinary powers to save herself, her country, and the two men she cares for most. And she’ll make a pact with a murderer to do it.

Those who wish to see the dark, be ready to pay your price.

Spellbound, by Cara Lynn Shultz

What’s a girl to do when meeting The One means she’s cursed to die a horrible death?

Life hasn’t been easy on sixteen-year-old Emma Conner, so a new start in New York may be just the change she needs. But the posh Upper East Side prep school she has to attend? Not so much. Friendly faces are few and far between, except for one that she’s irresistibly drawn to—Brendan Salinger, the guy with the rock-star good looks and the richest kid in school, who might just be her very own white knight.

But even when Brendan inexplicably turns cold, Emma can’t stop staring. Ever since she laid eyes on him, strange things have been happening. Streetlamps go out wherever she walks, and Emma’s been having the oddest dreams: visions of herself in past lives—visions that warn her to stay away from Brendan. Or else.

List from Borders.com and descriptions/reviews from Amazon.com

 

 

 

Book News, Books, News

George R. R. Martin’s Editor Video Reveals the Enormity That is “A Dance With Dragons”

George R. R. Martin recently posted an image of a dead King Kong on his “Not A Blog”, and there was much speculation as to what this could be about. The rumors were mainly directed one way: the completion of A Dance With Dragons, Martin’s fifth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. It has been reported that he called this book a beast, so the imagery fit.

Well, this rumor has definitely been confirmed, thanks to this video of Martin’s editor, Anne Groell, showing us the HUGE manuscript. She also humors fans by reading a few random lines throughout the story. Check it out:

I’m really curious as to how the amount of manuscript pages translates into actual book pages. Either way, we fans of this series have a wonderfully thick fifth book awaiting us!

Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

Read Before You Watch: Dual Review of the Dark, Bewitching Book “A Game of Thrones”

This is a perfect book for a dual review. Lauren isn’t as into High Fantasy as Hutch, who loves it. Here’s hoping these two opinions of this beloved story help you decide if you want to play the game of thrones yourself!

Lauren’s Review: I am in Awe

Amazing, amazing amazing. That could seriously be my review of A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. But, considering it was an 800-page monstrosity to get through, there is definitely more I have to say. First off, I have to preface this with the fact that I absolutely love fantasy, but have a hard time with so-called High Fantasy. Often-times there is so much back story, and journeying, and minute details of the texture of the stones of the castle walls that the plot gets lost, and so does my attention. Perhaps this is because I tend to read YA, which is usually more fast-paced. However, with this book being made into a television show by HBO, I knew I wanted to read the book first.

I’ll do my best to sum up the colossus-sized book. Robert is King after having usurped another, years prior. He journeys to the north to request that his companion from the war, Eddard (called Ned) be his Hand, his voice to the people. Ned does not want to go, but you can’t exactly refuse the king, so with a heavy heart and doubts in his soul, he travels to the king’s city to take up his position. He takes his two daughters with him, leaving a wife, three legit sons, and one bastard son behind in the northern keep of Winterfell. As usual, things are never as easy as they seem. The king’s wife is as devious as she is beautiful, and Ned suspects her of working to get her son on the throne—King Robert is blind to this, of course. And so begins the complicated dance that is the game of thrones.

We can’t forget the other two main story plots though. The only surviving heirs to the old throne are over the sea. The brother, Viserys, is marrying his sister Daenerys off to the leader of the rugged, primitive horse lords, to guarantee himself an army to fight with when he goes to reclaim the throne. But this is really Dany’s story, and we travel with her as she adjusts to this alien way of life, and what it means to her future and the future of her bloodline.

And then there is the Wall. A huge man-made wall of ice, not too far north of Winterfell, cutting the northern wild lands off completely from the civilized places below. Something strange is afoot, things stirring that haven’t been seen in ages, and all signs say it can’t be good.

There are a lot of typical fantasy themes, travelling, kings usurping each other, fights to the death, all that good stuff. The differences however are marked. Martin alternates the point of view in each chapter between the characters, including the children, and the story meanders through different cities viewed from different eyes. The author is amazing with the voices, and though it may be quite a few pages before you return to a certain character’s head, the descriptions and the way he writes the story was quick to remind me who was who and what was happening.

From the beginning I was impressed. There is an extremely creepy prologue that was well-written in a straight-forward, beautiful style. I was instantly there with the characters. I kept waiting to that typical High Fantasy voice, but it never came. Even when parts of the book seemed a bit slower to me, it wasn’t because of his language, it was because I wanted to get back to some of the other characters and see what was happening. Even simple details, like the fact that seasons lasted for years, not months, and that the kids had giant wolf puppies as pets, bumped up the caliber of the story. Things were foreign, but still familiar, often strange for a fantasy world. And there weren’t a lot of magical elements, not nearly as many as I was expecting anyway, though I did have to say the amount did increase as the story continued, which promises good things for the future books.

Two warnings, though. One warning is I’d say this is definitely not a series for kids, or even young teens. There is a lot of explicit sexual content, more than I would say is appropriate for a slightly younger audience. The other is watch out, because the author does some things with plot and character that I did NOT see coming, they are so unusual, and these surprises, combined with the plot, made it a powerful reading experience at times (I only got four hours of sleep last night; I had to keep reading to see what happened!).

I am in awe of this man. To write a story that is so complex, with so many layers and characters, and to do it so flawlessly and with seeming ease is amazing to me. This was an exceptional read, and I can’t wait to watch the HBO series and see if it lives up to the world in my head.

Hutch’s Review: Worth the Risk! 

The funny thing about A Game of Thrones?  It’s not like other fantasy books that you’ll read.  Sure there is magic, dragons, swords, kings and queens – but – there is also realism, something that is sorely lacking in most other epic fantasy books.

I am a fairly new convert to George R. R. Martins work – after The Wheel of Time and waiting decades for it to be concluded I vowed to myself that I wouldn’t start another fantasy series until I knew that the whole thing was done.  However a friend persuaded me to read A Game of Thrones and boy, am I glad he did!

The story starts in the frozen north in Winterfell where Lord Eddard Stark is in command.  Stark discovers some direwolf cubs – symbols of his house and he gifts the cubs to his five children.  Lord Eddard and the King of the land – Robert Baratheon – had overthrown the previous rulers and now King Robert had arrived in Winterfell to make Lord Eddard and offer he could not refuse!

If you want a story that has conspiracies, war and life and death decisions than I have to say that A Game of Thrones will not disappoint.  Similar to some of the better TV shows, in A Game of Thrones, NO ONE is safe.  There are surprises aplenty in this book and while the beginning is a little bit slow, it definitely picks up in pace as the book progresses.

I won’t give away any major hints about the characters or anything, but I will say this – be careful which characters you fall in love with.  What happens to and with them could surprise you to say the least!

A Game of Thrones however is not something that you should take lightly – if you are going to take the plunge into this universe, expect it to be dark and forbidding but also intensely interesting and bewitching.  How the characters grow and change from the early part of the book to the latter stages is excellent.  As a lover of epic high fantasy I really cannot recommend this book and series enough – I know that it is still not completed and if you are like me and frightened of starting a new series that doesn’t have a conclusion, I would simply say … it’s worth the risk!

 

News, TV, TV News

Even More ‘A Game of Thrones’ Goodness: Behind-the-Scenes Footage

HBO released today a whopping 24 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage of their upcoming show A Game of Thrones, set to release on Sunday, April 17th. There are interviews with the cast and crew about the making of the show, and also with superstar author George R. R. Martin, the creator of the book the show is based off of. I hope you enjoy it, and I personally can’t wait to indulge (I’ve only allowed myself bits and pieces at this point, as I’m finishing the book and don’t want anything spoiled for me!).