Book Events, Books, Events

Final holiday giveaway! THREE sets of Kelley Armstrong’s OTHERWORLD main trilogy and Brisingr Bookplate (international!)

We’re down to our last day of the ten days of giveaways, and it’s definitely the biggest one. We are giving away three sets of Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld books, Books 11, 12, and 13 (Waking the WitchSpell Bound, and Thirteen. You can read these three without having started earlier in the series). PLUS, our final Brisingr bookplate giveaway is international! So, lots and lots to celebrate today. Also, don’t forget our other remaining open giveaways, the day seven giveaway (ends tonight!), day eight giveaway, and day nine giveaway!

What’s the Otherworld series about? Here’s some info:

51qCrNJ3abL._SX281_BO1,204,203,200_Waking the Witch, by Kelley Armstrong

At twenty-one, Savannah Levine-orphaned daughter of a notorious dark witch and an equally notorious cutthroat sorcerer-considers herself a full-fledged member of the otherworld. The once rebellious teen has grown into a six-foot-tall, motorcycle-riding jaw-dropper, with an impressive knowledge of and ability to perform spells. The only problem is, she’s having a hard time convincing her adoptive parents, Paige and Lucas, to take her seriously as an adult. She’s working as the research assistant at the detective agency they founded, and when they take off on a romantic vacation alone, leaving her in charge, Savannah finds herself itching for a case to call her own. (She’s also itching for Adam, her longtime friend and colleague, to see her as more than just a little girl, but that’s another matter.)

Suddenly, Savannah gets the chance she’s been waiting for: Recruited by another supernatural detective, she travels to Columbus, Washington, a small, dying town. Two troubled young women have been found in an abandoned warehouse, murdered. Now a third woman’s dead, and on closer inspection small details point to darker forces at play. Savannah feels certain she can handle the case, but with signs of supernatural activity appearing at every turn, things quickly become more serious- and far more dangerous-than she realizes.

LMZ8514Plus, don’t forget the Brisingr bookplate, which is an international giveaway! Be sure to scroll down to the separate giveaway to enter.

Rules for the book pack:

This book pack is for US entry only.

This giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on Monday December 14th.

Rules for the Brisingr bookplate:

This giveaway is international.

This giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on Monday December 14th.
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Book Interviews, Books, Interviews

Beyond the Book – Lytherus Exclusive: Ten Questions with NY Times Bestselling Author Kelley Armstrong

#1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong saw kind enough to sit down and answer some questions for us here at Lytherus. In the interview we talk about the characters in her Otherworld series, the meaning of sex in her books, her writing life, and more!

This interview is slightly spoilery if you are completely unfamiliar with the Otherworld series, so proceed with caution if you want to be surprised.

Take it away Kelley!

****

1: I know this is the boring standard question, but for those who might not be aware, give a general intro to the awesome Otherworld you’ve created.

Women of the Otherworld features a changing set of supernatural women, each with her own story, usually adventure or suspense. While the narrators change, it’s set in a shared world, so the characters from one book appear in others. It started with Bitten in 2001 and wrapped up this summer with Thirteen.

2: I read somewhere that Bitten was written as a stand-alone, but then the series sort of grew into what we know it as now. Take us through the process of creating such a big task. Was it hard to come up with new story lines? Once you realized this was going to be more than one novel did you know off the bat you wanted to jump into other characters’ heads besides Elena?

When the publishers suggested a series, I knew I didn’t want to do countless novels with the characters of Bitten. I love them, but after a few books, I’d be struggling to find fresh plots. So I came up with the idea of the wider supernatural world, introducing new supernatural characters in book two, Stolen, and spinning into their stories starting with Dime Store Magic. The changing narrators really help to alleviate some of the problems with coming up with new story lines.  Whenever I switch, the new character lends herself to plots that wouldn’t work for others.

3: Of all the beloved characters you’ve written in this long, amazing series, why Savannah to finish it off? What about her character compelled you to write the final three books from her perspective?

I selected Savannah as my final narrator because she’s grown up in this world. It seemed fitting to show her coming into her own as a “woman of the Otherworld.”  Also she’s the character most tightly bound to all of the others. That made it easy for her to get help from all the others as she deals with her biggest personal and professional challenge.

4: Let’s talk about the hotties of this series. You’ve created some pretty spectacular men for these wonderfully powerful women (I’m partial to Adam, myself!). Was it hard writing the other gender? What did you enjoy most about creating these strong, sexy, often-times volatile characters? Also adding to this question, did you know from the start that sex was going to have its presence in the story the way that it does?

With first person narrative, I’m more comfortable writing it from a woman’s point of view. When I started this series, I didn’t consider using a male voice.  Yet it gets easier every time I try it, just as it gets easier to do characters who are more different from me in other aspects (age, personality etc). As for why I enjoy creating these characters, it doesn’t matter if they’re male or female—strong, complex and sometimes damaged characters interest me and seem to provide the best plots.

When I wrote the sex scenes in Bitten, they were seen as daring for the times. Explicit sex made sense with werewolves. Elena jokes they spend a big part of their lives engaged in the three F’s of basic survival: feeding, fighting and…reproduction. What I didn’t realize was that it might establish a baseline for the series. With changing narrators, it seems odd to me if they all have the same amount and type of sex, and they all relate it to the reader with the same degree of explicitness. That was an issue sometimes—editors believing that readers expected the same in each book while I argued that it depended on the character and the situation. I stuck to my guns, but I do think the changing “sex level” did bother some readers.

5: The epic battle between good and evil that takes place in Thirteen has been building for a while now. Where about in the series story line did you decide this was how it was going to end? Was it always going to be about revelation and the battle between revealing one’s true nature vs not? (Interesting, because the whole series is basically about this on a personal level, in one way or another).

For the past six books I’ve been laying the framework for this final plot. Book six was the point where I began to believe that the series could last long enough for me to fulfill my plan. With each subsequent novel, there were dangling threads or new discoveries that ultimately led to the end. Issues of identity and “who you trust to know your inner self” have been a core theme in the books, so it made sense that this would be the final question.

6: If you could step into your Otherworld, and be any supernatural being, what would you be and why? There are so many awesome powers out there!

I would love to be a werewolf and experience life in a different form. The secondary characteristics would be amazing, too, but some of those also make it hard for werewolves to blend, so if I was being very practical, I might go with spell-casters.

7: You’ve been a professional writer for a while now. Take us through a day in the life.

My basic routine is get up at 5:30 and write until I need to wake the kids. Once they’re off to school, I continue writing and editing for the morning, then get things like business done in the afternoon.

8 : When creating, do you outline or free-write? What’s the process you follow to bring a book from idea in your head to book in our hands?

My process is always evolving.  Being published means having deadlines, so it’s become important to learn which method work most efficiently. For me, that’s an outline.  My finished novel never completely follows it though—better ideas arise during the first draft and I follow them wherever they lead.

9: What’s currently on your reading shelf? Any goodies you’ve read lately that you’d like to share with our readers?

I’m an omnivorous reader, grazing from genre to genre, depending on my mood. Recent hot finds? A lot haven’t come out yet, but my next recommendation would be Sarah Rees Brennan’s Unspoken, coming in early September. I love gothics and Sarah does it with style and humour.

10: Are you really done with the Otherworld series? If so, what are you going to miss the most? What are you working on now — Any new ventures?

Yes, the Otherworld is on hiatus with Thirteen. I do plan to write more stories—and maybe even a future novel or two—but I’m ending the book-a-year schedule.

What will I miss most? Definitely the characters. The world is fun to play in, but it’s the characters who’ve made it a real treat for me.

As for what’s next, I’ve sold a new adult trilogy that combines mystery with paranormal aspects (different one than we find in the Otherworld) The first book, Cainsville, comes out next summer.

Anything else you want to say to your fans out there reading this?

Thank you for your support J When I wrote Bitten, I’d never have imagined it could last through thirteen books and it was the readers who made that happen. I never forget that.

****

Want to know more? You can follow Kelley on twitter: @KelleyArmstrongand you can check her out at www.kelleyarmstrong.com.

Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

‘Waking the Witch’ and ‘Spell Bound’ Start Off the Excellent Conclusion to Kelley Armstrong’s Otheworld Series

I’m a huge fan of Kelley Armstrong’s The Darkest Powers series, so when I was presented with the chance to interview her about her adult Otherworld series, I jumped at the chance. I had yet to read the series, and the thought of reading a whopping thirteen books in a short period of time was … daunting. Luckily I was told that the last three books work as their own trilogy with no need to read the previous books, which eased off that massive pressure. However, I really wanted to see where it all started, so I decided to first read Bitten and Stolen, the initial two books in the series, before continuing on to Waking the Witch, Spell Bound, and Thirteen.

I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that I’m not a huge fan of Urban Fantasy, so I was worried that I wouldn’t get into this series (a significant worry when you have five books to read that are 400+ pages each!). Well, there’s a reason this amazing author is a #1 New York Times bestseller. These books were great, and I was hard-pressed to put them down (I even blew off going out one night on a Vegas vacation so I could sit in my hotel room and read.). This will be a combo review, covering the first two books in the final trilogy.

Throughout the series the author switches points of view, and the final three books are told from the point of view of 21-year-old witch Savannah Levine. Savannah first appeared in the series in book two, Stolen, as a talented child about to come into her powers. She’s present in all the books from there forward in some manner, and the reader grows up with her, finding her eventually in her early twenties working for her adoptive parents at their investigative agency.

In Waking the Witch, Savannah is presented with the chance to get out from behind the receptionist’s desk and work her very first case. Women are being murdered in a small town, and it looks like it’s ritualistic in nature, which usually means witchcraft of sorcery. Savannah sets off to investigate, and with the help of her good friend (and long-time secret crush), Adam, who also happens to be a half-demon, she realizes that a lot more is going on in the town than what appears to be happening on the surface. As more people keep showing up dead, and lots of potential suspects become revealed, Savannah has to really use her wits—and her magic—to get to the bottom of the mystery … all the while trying not to become a victim herself.

The first two books are from the first person perspective of Elena the werewolf, so to jump into the head of a young, headstrong witch was a bit of an adjustment. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about another character taking the lead of the story, but the fact that I knew who she was from the previous book helped a lot. I quickly fell into the rhythm of her internal voice, and I’ve actually come to like it better. She is a fun, hotheaded character and I really enjoyed seeing her interact with the small town folk.

It was weird, in a cool way, to have references to the stories previous. These books are supposed to be able to stand alone, and I’d agree that it’s possible. However, I do think that I got a much richer reading experience by reading the first two books, which introduced me to the rules of the world and the major players. And the referencing back wasn’t a lot, not enough to make the story confusing anyway, but it definitely has made me want to pick up the in-between books and see the stories that happened there.

There was a pretty big cliffhanger ending too, which had me reaching immediately for the next book. It was literally the last page, and left me going, “Wait, whaaaa??? …” All in all this was a fun book to read, and I enjoyed being in the complexities that are Savannah’s world.

 

***THERE ARE MILD SPOILERS  FOR WAKING THE WITCH IN THE NEXT REVIEW, SO PROCEED WITH CAUTION IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED!***

 

Spell Bound literally picks up where Waking the Witch left off, with Savannah losing her powers. She has a casual thought about giving them up to save somebody, and poof, they’re gone. This is not the norm of how these things happen, so Savannah sets off to try and figure out what happened. Of course, to complicate matters, someone’s after her, and when she needs her spells the most she’s forced to use good old-fashioned physical fighting and creative ingenuity for her sneaking around. As Savannah searches for her magic (and balance), she learns about a bigger plot that involves all those she cares about, something that, if it succeeds, will change the world forever.

This was my favorite of Kelley’s books that I read from this series. Savannah’s difficulties with not having her magic to rely on were great to experience, and it felt like a relatable growth story. We all have these experiences; things are taken from all of us from time to time without our consent. How we choose to live in the face of that says a lot about us as people. And Savannah was right there, struggling and introspecting left and right like the rest of us would.

I was also impressed with how the end game slowly revealed itself. There’s always a lot going on in Kelley’s books (in a good way!) and I loved how the big baddies slowly came out of the woodwork as the story progressed. One thing is tied in with this bigger thing that leads to the next big thing. It was great, but I didn’t see it coming, which made the reading all the better.

It’s also great to see the development of Savannah’s friend and crush relationship turn into something more. Being in her head made it fun, and again, who hasn’t been there, worrying about whether or not you’re going to ruin a friendship by kissing that person? It was great, fun to experience, and I really loved this more human side of things in a supernatural world.

Again, like with the last book, I couldn’t wait to start Thirteen, and yet again closed one book and opened the next, because I was dying to see where the story went. Kelley built up nicely for the finale, and it was with excitement that I grabbed Thirteen off the shelf.

Book Events, Book Interviews, Books, Events, Interviews

It’s Kelley Armstrong Week on Lytherus!

This week we’re happy to feature #1 New York Time best-selling author Kelley Armstrong on our site!

Kelley just finished up the last book in her Otherworld series, with Thirteen publishing two weeks ago. In celebration of that we’re going to have some fun things on the site this week, including:

  • Reviews of five of the books in the Otherworld series, including Thirteen
  • An exclusive Lytherus interview with Kelley
  • Multiple giveaways of Waking the Witch, Spell Bound, and Thirteen!
Stay tuned as we post throughout the week!
Book News, Books, News

This Week’s New Book Releases, Week of July 22, 2012

Here’s this week’s new scifi, fantasy and horror books. Click on the title to see the cover! Released Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Alex Van Helsing: The Triumph of Death, by Jason Henderson

There is a famous painting in Madrid that holds the key to an apocalypse only Alex Van Helsing can stop.

Within months of discovering he’s next in a long line of vampire hunters, Alex Van Helsing has already defeated two powerful vampire leaders. Not bad for a fourteen-year-old. But when a newly risen vampire queen threatens the fate of the world, Alex faces his deadliest challenge yet. Teaming up with a motorcycle-riding witch, Alex jets between Switzerland, the UK, and Spain in a frantic race to prevent the queen from unleashing a curse that will plunge the world into darkness. With the clock ticking, Alex barely has time to breathe, let alone see his friends, and he’s beginning to wonder if being a vampire hunter is worth all its sacrifices. In this thrilling finale to the action-packed series described as “James Bond meets Dracula,” everything — Alex’s future and, ultimately, that of the world — hangs in the balance.

Sorry Please Thank You: Stories, by Charles Yu

The author of the widely praised debut novel How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe returns with a hilarious, heartbreaking, and utterly original collection of short stories. A big-box store employee is confronted by a zombie during the graveyard shift, a problem that pales in comparison to his inability to ask a coworker out on a date . . . A fighter leads his band of virtual warriors, thieves, and wizards across a deadly computer-generated landscape, but does he have what it takes to be a hero? . . . A company outsources grief for profit, its slogan: “Don’t feel like having a bad day? Let someone else have it for you.” Drawing from both pop culture and science, Charles Yu is a brilliant observer of contemporary society, and in Sorry Please Thank You he fills his stories with equal parts laugh-out-loud humor and piercing insight into the human condition. He has already garnered comparisons to such masters as Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams, and in this new collection we have resounding proof that he has arrived (via a wormhole in space-time) as a major new voice in American fiction.

Thirteen (Women of the Underworld), by Kelley Armstrong

The #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong delivers the novel her fans have been clamoring for: Thirteen, the epic finale of the Otherworld series. It’s been more than ten years, a dozen installments, and hundreds of thousands of copies since Kelley Armstrong introduced readers to the all-too-real denizens of the Otherworld: witches, werewolves, necromancers, vampires, and half-demons, among others. And it’s all been leading to Thirteen, the final installment, the novel that brings all of these stories to a stunning conclusion. A war is brewing—the first battle has been waged and Savannah Levine is left standing, albeit battered and bruised. She has rescued her half brother from supernatural medical testing, but he’s fighting to stay alive. The Supernatural Liberation Movement took him hostage, and they have a maniacal plan to expose the supernatural world to the unknowing. Savannah has called upon her inner energy to summon spells with frightening strength, a strength she never knew she had, as she fights to keep her world from shattering. But it’s more than a matter of supernaturals against one another—both heaven and hell have entered the war; hellhounds, genetically modified werewolves, and all forces of good and evil have joined the fray. Uniting Savannah with Adam, Paige, Lucas, Jaime, Hope, and other lost-but-notforgotten characters in one epic battle, Thirteen is a grand, crowd-pleasing closer for Armstrong’s legions of fans.

The Dark Knight Rises: The Official Novelization, by Greg Cox

Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman return in the thrilling and hotly anticipated conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. The blockbuster movie will introduce new faces to the franchise as well, including Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), Bane (Tom Hardy), John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard). From the team that brought you InceptionThe Dark Knight Rises is guaranteed to be the blockbuster hit of 2012. This enthralling official novelization will transport fans into a Gotham City once again under threat.

Darksiders: The Abomination Vault, by Ari Marmell

Ride with the Horsemen of the Apocalypse as they seek to unearth a plot that could plunge all of Creation into chaos! Ages before the events of Darksiders and Darksiders II, two of the feared Horsemen—Death and War—are tasked with stopping a group of renegades from locating the Abomination Vault: a hoard containing weapons of ultimate power and malice, capable of bringing an end to the uneasy truce between Heaven and Hell . . . but only by unleashing total destruction. Created in close collaboration with the Darksiders II teams at Vigil and THQ, Darksiders: The Abomination Vault gives an exciting look at the history and world of the Horsemen, shining a new light on the unbreakable bond between War and Death.

Lost Tribe of the Sith: Star Wars: The Collected Stories, by John Jackson Miller

At last in one volume, the eight original installments of the epic Lost Tribe of the Sith eBook series . . . along with the explosive, never-before-published finale,Pandemonium—more than one hundred pages of new material! Five thousand years ago. After a Jedi ambush, the Sith mining ship Omen lies wrecked on a remote, unknown planet. Its commander, Yaru Korsin, battles the bloodshed of a mutinous faction led by his own brother. Marooned and facing death, the Sith crew have no choice but to venture into their desolate surroundings. They face any number of brutal challenges—vicious predators, lethal plagues, tribal people who worship vengeful gods—and like true Sith warriors, counter them with the dark side of the Force. The struggles are just beginning for the proud, uncompromising Sith, driven as they are to rule at all costs. They will vanquish the primitive natives, and they will find their way back to their true destiny as rulers of the galaxy. But as their legacy grows over thousands of years, the Sith ultimately find themselves tested by the most dangerous threat of all: the enemy within.

Technomancer (Unspeakable Things, Book 1), by B. V. Larson 

A new kind of alien invasion… When Quentin Draith wakes up in a private sanatorium, he has no memory of who he is or how he received the injuries riddling his body. All he knows is that he has to get out, away from the drugs being pumped into him and back to the real world to search for answers. His first question: How did his friend Tony’s internal organs fill with sand, killing him in a Las Vegas car crash? After a narrow escape, he tracks down the basic facts: he is an investigator and blogger specializing in the supernatural—which is a good thing, because Quentin’s life is getting stranger by the minute. It seems he is one of a special breed, a person with unusual powers. He’s also the prime suspect in a string of murders linked by a series of seemingly mundane objects. The deeper he digs and the harder he works to clear his name, the more Quentin realizes that some truths are better off staying buried…

Amped, by Douglas E. Richards

The highly-anticipated sequel to the New York Times & USA Today bestseller, WIRED. Note: WIRED was the #1 bestselling Kindle book of 2011 in two major categories: science fiction and technothrillers (and 19th overall). Kira Miller is a brilliant scientist who discovers how to temporarily boost human IQ to dizzying levels. But this transcendent intelligence brings with it a ruthless megalomania. Determined to use her discovery to propel human civilization to a higher plane, despite this side effect, Kira and ex-special forces operative David Desh recruit a small group of accomplished scientists, all of whom are safely off the grid. Or so they think . . . Soon Kira and her team are fighting for their lives against unknown but powerful adversaries. Worse still, while on the run and being relentlessly attacked from all quarters, Kira comes across evidence of savage acts that the enhanced version of Desh kept hidden, even from himself. Now both she and Desh must question everything they think they know. Can they trust each other? Can they even trust themselves? And all the while, the greatest threat of all may be coming from an entirely unexpected direction. A threat that could lead to devastation on a global scale. And time is quickly running out . . . Like its predecessor, AMPED is a smart thriller crammed with breakneck action, unexpected twists, mind-blowing science, and philosophical and ethical concepts readers will be contemplating long after they’ve read the last page.

Cuttlefish, by Dave Freer

The smallest thing can change the path of history. The year is 1976, and the British Empire still spans the globe. Coal drives the world, and the smog of it hangs thick over the canals of London. Clara Calland is on the run. Hunted, along with her scientist mother, by Menshevik spies and Imperial soldiers, they flee Ireland for London. They must escape airships, treachery, and capture. Under flooded London’s canals, they join the rebels who live in the dank tunnels there. Tim Barnabas is one of the underpeople, born to the secret town of drowned London, place of anti-imperialist republicans and Irish rebels, part of the Liberty—the people who would see a return to older values and free elections. Seeing no farther than his next meal, Tim has hired on as a submariner on the Cuttlefish, a coal-fired submarine that runs smuggled cargoes beneath the steamship patrols, to the fortress America and beyond. When the Imperial soldiery comes ravening, Clara and her mother are forced to flee aboard the Cuttlefish. Hunted like beasts, the submarine and her crew must undertake a desperate voyage across the world, from the Faeroes to the Caribbean and finally across the Pacific to find safety. But only Clara and Tim Barnabas can steer them past treachery and disaster, to freedom in Westralia. Carried with them—a lost scientific secret that threatens the very heart of Imperial power.

Endlessly (Paranormalcy), by Kiersten White

Evie’s paranormal past keeps coming back to haunt her. A new director at the International Paranormal Containment Agency wants to drag her back to headquarters. The Dark Faerie Queen is torturing humans in her poisonous realm. And supernatural creatures keep insisting that Evie is the only one who can save them from a mysterious, perilous fate. The clock is ticking on the entire paranormal world. And its fate rests solely in Evie’s hands. So much for normal. Something Strange and Deadly, by Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly, by Susan Dennard

There’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia. . . .

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about.

Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper:

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor . . . from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

 Drain You, by M. Beth Bloom

Every night I’d lie there in bed and look out at the hills behind our house, listening. I knew there’d be consequences.

Actions meant reactions. Sunrises meant sunsets. My fear was too permanent, lasting longer than eyeliner, something I wore every day and didn’t wash off.

Quinlan Lacey’s life is a red carpet of weird fashions, hip bands, random parties, and chilling by the pool with her on-and-off BFF Libby. There’s also her boring job (minimum wage), a crushed-out coworker (way too interested), her summer plans (nada), and her parents (totally clueless). Then one night she meets gorgeous James, and Quinn’s whole world turns crazy, Technicolor, 3-D, fireworks, whatever.

But with good comes bad and unfortunately, Quinn’s new romance brings with it some majorly evil baggage. Now, to make things right, she has to do a lot of things wrong (breaking and entering, kidnapping, lying, you name it).

There’s normal, and then there’s paranormal, and neither are Quinlan’s cup of Diet Coke. Staying sane, cool, in love, and alive isn’t so easy breezy.

I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: The Legacies, by Pittacus Lore

I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: The Legacies contains three action-packed novellas that give the heart-pounding backstories of some of your favorite Loriens. Originally published as the e-novellas Six’s LegacyNine’s Legacy, and The Fallen Legacies, now, for the first time ever, their backstories are together in one volume.

You know we’re out there, living among you.
You know we’re waiting for our day to come.
You have seen the power of our legacies.
You know this is why they hunt us.
You may think you know our stories.
You are wrong.
We each have our own story.
We know the time has come to share them with you.
Our legacies are your only hope.

Liberator (Dragons of Starlight), by Bryan Davis

Headline: The Time Has Come As the long-awaited invasion of human forces looms, Jason, Koren, and Elyssa struggle to alert the soldiers to an unforeseen menace on the planet of Starlight—a deadly illness has been released, one that already has Koren in its grip. Starlighter Cassabrie harbors a secret she believes can counter the devastation being unleashed by dragon king Taushin’s latest maneuverings, but she can disclose little of her risky plan. As Cassabrie fights to save her people, the dragon Magnar works to move the Starlight prophecy in his favor. His actions could release an ancient race of dragon-like beings, making the plight of humans even more perilous. Wishing only to free the slaves and to bring peace, a few young warriors are poised to face three armies as they battle for control of two worlds. Can love, faith, and courage be enough? Will Cassabrie be the human’s last hope?

 

All descriptions from amazon.com.

Book Events, Books, Events

SDCC12: Paranormal Love-Potion Panel: Writing Romance for Non-Human Characters

On the second day of San Diego Comic Con 2012 there were two huge book panels. First up was Paranormal Love Potion: Writing Romance for Non-Human Characters. Like the panels before, there was an all-star line-up of awesome authors: Kelley Armstrong (Thirteen), Aprilynne Pike (Wings), Shawntelle Madison (Coveted), Tessa Gratton (Blood Magic), Sylvia Day (Crossfire), Marjorie Liu (Dirk & Steele), and Andrea Cremer (Nightshade).

The moderator broke up the questions by asking some to everyone, and then going through with individual questions before opening the floor up for audience questions.

The first question off the bat was about what draws these writers to paranormal (and why you think it draws readers the way that it does).  Various ideas arose, but similar themes overall emerged: the magical and the mundane co-existing, needing to write a book you enjoy reading, and of course kissing. Andrea Cremer summed it up best by saying, and I quote, “It’s really frickin’ awesome!”

Kelley Armstrong was the only panelist to have published paranormal romance before the Twilight craze, and she was asked what it’s like to have written before. She replied about having great timing and being able to ride the wave of success on both her young adult and adult books, so no issues!

Tessa Gratton and Shawntelle Madison were the newbies on the panel, and they were asked to give advice to aspiring authors who want to write in this genre when they are told the market is too crowded. Tessa gave the time-tested reply of write what you love, it will be what you’re best at. Shawntelle mentioned making herself go outside the box and challenge her pre-conceived ideas of what is acceptable, and she recommended everyone do so. Also, don’t forget perseverance!

Marjorie Liu and Sylvia day were asked how they know which media to write in (movies or books or comics, etc). Marjorie kind or let us inside of her thinking a little bit, and she talked about how she “sees” things in her head, and if she can tell the story better visually, that’s the way to do it, and it’s destined to become a comic. Sylvia focused more on the actual story: setting and the complications of the plot. Once that’s in place, then you can decide what style will best increase the stakes. I found both of these answers to be fascinating and extremely helpful in the creative process overall, since these are relevant to determining placement of ideas in all art forms.

Andrea Cremer was a history professor and wanted to know how being a pro helped her write. She gave many examples of things throughout history that are paranormal related, based on ignorance and fear, and talked about how this only enhances her experience.

Aprilynne Pike’s question was about her fairy world, which is botany-based. She laughingly said she had no idea how she thought of it, it just came to her in mind wandering one night when she couldn’t sleep. She went on to talk about mythos, stating brilliantly that you cannot twist mythos until you know the mythos.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a love panel without talking about the hotties that help make the books. A general question for the panel was about the sexual and animal instincts within us, and if that’s why people like these books so much. Pike pointed out an observation about comments from fans, that what they see in the stories reflect where they are in their lives, as if they read that into the books. Also, it was interesting to hear stories of how the men came into existence in the priority of creating the story. Some authors came up with the heroines first, and then the conflict, and then fit the hero in, but some really do start with the hot guy first (even though sometimes, as the story goes on, it’s the quiet cutie librarian dude who is meant to be the real love interest!)

This panel was a great panel with enjoyable, interesting topics. It was fun to not debate difficult subjects, but to just hear how to get into someone’s head when they write what so many readers know and love. And of course there’s the kissing!

Book News, Books, News

New Book Releases, Week of June 17th, 2012

 

Here’s this week’s new releases in fantasy, scifi, and horror. Click on the titles to see the covers!

Released Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Alif the Unseen, by G. Willow Wilson

In an unnamed Middle Eastern security state, a young Arab-Indian hacker shields his clients—dissidents, outlaws, Islamists, and other watched groups—from surveillance and tries to stay out of trouble. He goes by Alif—the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, and a convenient handle to hide behind. The aristocratic woman Alif loves has jilted him for a prince chosen by her parents, and his computer has just been breached by the State’s electronic security force, putting his clients and his own neck on the line. Then it turns out his lover’s new fiancé is the head of State security, and his henchmen come after Alif, driving him underground. When Alif discovers The Thousand and One Days, the secret book of the jinn, which both he and the Hand suspect may unleash a new level of information technology, the stakes are raised and Alif must struggle for life or death, aided by forces seen and unseen. With shades of Neal Stephenson, Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman, and The Thousand and One Nights, Alif the Unseen is a tour de force debut—a sophisticated melting pot of ideas, philosophy, religion, technology and spirituality smuggled inside an irresistible page-turner.

The Devil Delivered and Other Tales, by Steven Erikson

Steven Erikson has carved a name for himself among the pantheon of great fantasy writers. But his masterful storytelling and prose style go beyond the awe-inspiring Malazan world. In The Devil Delivered and Other Tales, Erikson tells three different, but captivating stories:
“The Devil Delivered” tells a story set within the near future, where the land owned by the great Lakota Nation blisters beneath an ozone hole the size of the Great Plains. As the natural world falls victim to its wrath, and scientists scramble to understand it, a lone anthropologist wanders the deadlands, recording observations that threaten to bring the entire world to its knees.
“Revolvo” takes place in an alternate Earth where evolution took an interesting turn and  the arts scene is ruled by technocrats who thrive in a secret, nepotistic society of granting agencies, bursaries, and peer-review boards, all designed to permit self-proclaimed artists to survive without an audience.
“Fishin’ with Grandma Matchie” is told in the voice a nine-year-old boy, writing the story of his summer vacation. What starts as a typical recount of a trip to see Grandma quickly becomes a stunning fantastical journey into imagination and perception in the wild world that Grandma Matchie inhabits.

Existence, by David Brin

Bestselling, award-winning futurist David Brin returns to globe-spanning, high concept SF with Existence.
Gerald Livingston is an orbital garbage collector. For a hundred years, people have been abandoning things in space, and someone has to clean it up. But there’s something spinning a little bit higher than he expects, something that isn’t on the decades’ old orbital maps. An hour after he grabs it and brings it in, rumors fill Earth’s infomesh about an “alien artifact.”
Thrown into the maelstrom of worldwide shared experience, the Artifact is a game-changer. A message in a bottle; an alien capsule that wants to communicate. The world reacts as humans always do: with fear and hope and selfishness and love and violence. And insatiable curiosity.

Forged in Fire, by J. A. Pitts

Sarah Jane Beauhall, the blacksmith turned dragon slayer, has it all figured out—little things like dealing with the political intrigue of dragons who secretly run our world, and learning to wield the magic that she has been given by none other than Odin, who has been fighting the dragons for millennia. And then there is the matter of coming to terms with who she is…and how to build a life with her partner, Katie.

All these things are forced into the background however when a magic-wielding serial killer starts prowling the Pacific Northwest. And all of  his victims have ties to Sarah. Sarah must unravel the web she finds closing around her as a powerful necromancer and a crazed blood cult known as the Dragon Liberation Front work to tear apart everything she holds dear.

Forged in Fire is the third volume in J. A.Pitts’s compelling urban fantasy series.

The Long Earth, by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

The possibilities are endless. (Just be careful what you wish for. . . .)

1916: The Western Front. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong and the wind in the leaves. Where have the mud, blood, and blasted landscape of no-man’s-land gone? For that matter, where has Percy gone?

2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Police officer Monica Jansson is exploring the burned-out home of a reclusive—some say mad, others allege dangerous—scientist who seems to have vanished. Sifting through the wreckage, Jansson find a curious gadget: a box containing some rudimentary wiring, a three-way switch, and . . . a potato. It is the prototype of an invention that will change the way humankind views the world forever.

The first novel in an exciting new collaboration between Discworld creator Terry Pratchett and the acclaimed SF writer Stephen Baxter, The Long Earth transports readers to the ends of the earth—and far beyond. All it takes is a single step. . . .

Terminal Point: A Strykers Syndicate Novel, by K. M. Ruiz

Blade Runner meets X-Men in this follow-up to Mind Storm where humanity faces extinction and it’s up to a group of rogue psions to save society

Fans of Charles Stross and Hannu Rajaniemi will lose themselves in this adventure as Threnody Corwin and her team of rogue Strykers contend with the aftermath of the events in Mind Storm and the unlocking of a new kind of psion power. They’re on the run with Lucas Serca, who is closer than ever to destroying the World Court and his father’s grip on the planet. Targeting the hidden cache of the planet’s food supply meant to transform Mars into a paradise for the chosen few, Lucas triggers an escalating fight with the ruling government as worldwide chaos ensues. It’s up to Threnody to save society before it destroys itself, but the cost is high and in the end, there is no such thing as compromise.

There is only survival.

 Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R. R, Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire from A Game of Thrones to A Dance With Dragons, edited by James Lowder

Foreword by New York Times bestselling author R.A. Salvatore
Go beyond the Wall and across the narrow sea with this collection about George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, from A Game of Thrones to A Dance with Dragons.
The epic game of thrones chronicled in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series has captured the imaginations of millions of readers. In Beyond the Wall, bestselling authors and acclaimed critics offer up thought-provoking essays and compelling insights:
Daniel Abraham reveals the unique challenges of adapting the original books into graphic novels. Westeros.org founders Linda Antonsson and Elio M. García, Jr., explore the series’ complex heroes and villains, and their roots in the Romantic movement. Wild Cards contributor Caroline Spector delves into the books’ controversial depictions of power and gender.
Plus much more, from military science fiction writer Myke Cole on the way Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder shapes many of the leading characters to author and television writer Ned Vizzini on the biases against genre fiction that color critical reactions to the series.
Contributors:
R.A. Salvatore (foreword)

Daniel Abraham

Linda Antonsson

Myke Cole

Elio M. García, Jr.

Brent Hartinger

John Jos. Miller

Alyssa Rosenberg

Jesse Scoble

Caroline Spector

Matt Staggs

Susan Vaught

Ned Vizzini

Gary Westfahl

Adam Whitehead

Andrew Zimmerman Jones

Entasy, by Brynn Myers

Kylah is the granddaughter of two Celtic goddesses, but due to a tragedy Kylah’s memories were taken to protect her. She has no idea who she really is, but soon she will find out…soon she will have to confront her past in order to save her future.

Survivors (The Morningstar Strain), by Z. A. Recht

The long-awaited finale of Z.A. Recht’s “action-packed zombie extravaganza” (Ryan C. Thomas) that began with the acclaimed novels Plague of the Dead and Thunder and Ashes. . . .THE MORNINGSTAR STRAIN WAS THE END OF THE WORLD.

In the wake of the zombie apocalypse, two separate bands of survivors journey across a decimated America, each with the desperate goal of finding the cure for the virulent plague that threatens the existence of humankind—or what’s left of it. Now it’s up to these inheritors of the future to outlive their waking nightmare, any way they can.

BUT FOR THESE SURVIVORS, IT IS JUST THE BEGINNING.

One group includes a brilliant virologist; for the other, an immune soldier proves invaluable. Battling infected and marauding raiders at every turn, the teams soon uncover the devious plans of Sawyer, an agent of the Chairman of the Reunited States of America, who believes that Dr. Anna Demilio already has the cure, and he will stop at nothing to find her. Now, with the salvation of the world and their own souls on the line, how far will the survivors go to emerge victorious?

The Vampire Narcise (Regency Draculia), by Colleen Gleason

Skilled in the seduction of men, both mortal and immortal, Narcise Moldavi is the greatest weapon in her twisted brother’s war among the Dracule. Until she falls for Giordan Cale.

Her first searing encounter with Giordan seals their fierce connection. But Giordan’s vow to help Narcise escape her brother’s rule is followed by a betrayal more agonizing than sunlight.

Wounded but determined, Narcise ensnares vampire hunter Chas Woodmore in her quest for revenge and to reclaim her life. He wants her, worships her, will kill for her. And the Dracule never forget a wrong—nor do they forgive.

The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2012, by Kelley Armstrong, Stephen King, et al.

Take a journey into darkness. Visit places where one might expect to find the dark – in a house where love was shared and lost, a milky-white pool in an Australian cave, the trenches of World War I, the deep woods. You would not be surprised to find the dark in a cheap apartment on the wrong side of town, down mean streets, under a gallows-tree, along dank passageways, trapped underground, in the near future, or among the mysteries of old New Orleans. Dunes, lakes, isolated cabins, old books, and Old West saloons – well, the darkness might easily be there. But we’ve also found locales you thought were safe from shadows – a rib joint with good blues playing, inside an old wardrobe, on a baseball diamond, the Beverly Wilshire Hotel… Travel into the best dark fantasy and horror from 2011 with more than five-hundred pages of tales from some of today’s best-known writers of the fantastique as well as new talents – stories that will take you to a diverse assortment of dark places.

Blood Moon (Drake Chronicles), by Alyxandra Harvey

When the vampire tribes convene for the rare Blood Moon ceremonies, Solange Drake’s struggle with her feral nature, a mysterious stranger, family secrets, and forbidden magic put her entire family in danger. And when Nicholas Drake is torn between saving his little sister, Solange, or his girlfriend Lucy, who will he choose?

Burn Mark, by Laura Powell

In a modern world—where witches are hunted down and burned at the stake—two live interact. Cleo is from a family of witches, and is desperate to develop the ‘Fae’ and become a witch herself. Lucas is the son of the Chief Prosecutor for the Inquisition and his privileged life is very different from the witches he is being trained to prosecute. And then one day, both Cleo and Lucas develop the Fae. In one fell stroke, their lives are inextricably bound together, whether they like it or not.

The Legacy of Tril: Soulbound, by Heather Brewer

A brand-new fantasy with a kick-butt heroine from the author of The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod
Tril is a world where Barrons and Healers are Bound to each other: Barrons fight and Healers cure their Barrons’ wounds in the ongoing war with the evil Graplar King. Seventeen-year-old Kaya was born a Healer, but she wants to fight. In Tril, and at Shadow Academy, where she is sent to learn to heal, it is against Protocol for Healers to fight. So Kaya must learn in secret. Enter two young men: One charming, rule-following Barron who becomes Bound to Kaya and whose life she must protect at all costs. And one with a mysterious past who seems bent on making Kaya’s life as difficult as possible. Kaya asks both to train her, but only one will, and the consequences will change their lives forever.
Heather Brewer has created a thrilling, action-packed, and romantic first installment of the Legacy of Tril series, where one strong heroine must break the rules to claim her destiny and her heart.

This is Not a Test, by Courtney Summers

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

 

All descriptions from Amazon.

 

 

Book News, Books, News

New Releases, Week of July 24th, 2011

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

Released Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Nagash Immortal (Time of Legends), by Mike Lee

In the tunnels of Nagashizzar, a new threat to the realm of the undead is rising. Nagash must call upon all his reserves of power to defeat the skaven assault and continue his unholy reign. But when Nagash realises he can use his enemy for his own nefarious needs, an uneasy alliance is struck and a vast, nightmarish army is formed. The necromancer launches his final attack on the lands of Nehekhara, sweeping all before him. Only one man dare stand in his way – Alcadizzar, a peerless warrior and the leader of a defiant force. Their confrontation will not just decide the fate of Nehekhara, but of all the Old World.

 

 

Den of Thieves (The Ancient Blades Trilogy, Book 1), by David Chandler

Born and raised in the squalid depths of the Free City of Ness, Malden became a thief by necessity. Now he must pay a fortune to join the criminal operation of Cutbill, lord of the underworld—and one does not refuse the master . . . and live.

The coronet of the Burgrave would fulfill Malden’s obligations, though it is guarded by hungry demons that would tear the soul from any interloper. But the desperate endeavor leads to a more terrible destiny, as Malden, an outlaw knight, and an ensorcelled lady must face the most terrifying evil in the land.

 

 

Hard Spell (Occult Crimes Unit Investigation), by Justin Gustainis

Stan Markowski is a Detective Sergeant on the Scranton PD’s Supernatural Crimes Investigation Unit.

Like the rest of America, Scranton’s got an uneasy ‘live and let unlive’ relationship with the supernatural. But when a vamp puts the bite on an unwilling victim, or some witch casts the wrong kind of spell, that’s when they call Markowski. He carries a badge. Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.

 

 

Germline (The Subterrene War), by T. C. McCarthy

Germline (n.) the genetic material contained in a cellular lineage which can be passed to the next generation. Also: secret military program to develop genetically engineered super-soldiers (slang).

War is Oscar Wendell’s ticket to greatness. A reporter for The Stars and Stripes, he has the only one way pass to the front lines of a brutal war over natural resources buried underneath the icy, mineral rich mountains of Kazakhstan.

But war is nothing like he expected. Heavily armored soldiers battle genetically engineered troops hundreds of meters below the surface. The genetics-the germline soldiers-are the key to winning this war, but some inventions can’t be un-done. Some technologies can’t be put back in the box.

Kaz will change everything, not least Oscar himself. Hooked on a dangerous cocktail of adrenaline and drugs, Oscar doesn’t find the war, the war finds him.

Restoration: The World House, Book 2, by Guy Adams

NONE WHO ENTER THE WORLD HOUSE LEAVE IT UNCHANGED. In some rooms, forests grow; animals roam and objects come to life. Great secrets and treasures await the brave or foolhardy. And at the very top of the house, the prisoner it was all built to contain sat behind a locked door waiting for the key to turn.

The day that happened, the world ended.

A sequel to the stunning “The World House”.

 

 

Monster Hunter Alpha, by Larry Correia

Dirty Harry meets Twilight. #3 in the break-out series and a follow-up to Monster Hunter International and Monster Hunter Vendetta.

Earl Harbinger may be the leader of Monster Hunter International, but he’s also got a secret. Nearly a century ago, Earl was cursed to be werewolf.  When Earl receives word that one of his oldest foes, a legendarily vicious werewolf that worked for the KGB, has mysteriously appeared in the remote woods of Michigan, he decides to take care of some unfinished business. But another force is working to bring about the creation of a whole new species of werewolf. When darkness falls, the final hunt begins, and the only thing standing in their way is a handful of locals, a lot of firepower, and Earl Harbinger’s stubborn refusal to roll over and play dead.

Here’s a sample of Larry Correia’s prose punch from series opener, Monster Hunter International:  “I didn’t wake up that morning and decide that I was going to kill my boss with my bare hands.  It was much more complicated than that.”

Imperial Glory (Imperial Guard), by Richard Williams

Tired and broken by war, the men of the Brimlock Eleventh Imperial Guard are a force on the verge of collapse. Having been stretched across the galaxy by their loyalty to the Emperor, they are presented with one final battle that will allow them reward they all seek: to colonise the distant world of Vorr and live out the rest of their days in peace. All that stands in their way is a force of savages – a plague of feral orks that has spread across the planet. But can the Brimlock’s battered bodies and minds hold up to this greenskin invasion?

 

 

Heart of Iron, by Ekaterina Sedia

In a Russia where the Decembrists’ rebellion was successful and the Trans-Siberian railroad was completed before 1854, Sasha Trubetskaya wants nothing more than to have a decent debut ball in St. Petersburg. But her aunt’s feud with the emperor lands Sasha at university, where she becomes one of its first female students – an experiment, she suspects, designed more to prove female unsuitability for such pursuits than offer them education. The pressure intensifies when Sasha’s only friends – Chinese students – start disappearing, and she begins to realize that her new British companion, Jack, has bigger secrets than she can imagine! Sasha and Jack find themselves trying to stop a war brewing between the three empires. The only place they can turn to for help is the Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace, newly founded by the Taiping rebels. Pursued by the terrifying Dame Florence Nightingale of the British Secret Service, Sasha and Jack escape across Siberia via train to China. Sasha discovers that Jack is not quite the person she thought he was…but then again, neither is she.

When the Great Days Come, by Gardner Dozois

Millions of tiny robots dismantle Atlantic City. A Luddite encounters time travelers near the moment of Singularity. A young boy may have just destroyed the entire Eastern Seaboard. By turns haunting and humorous, Gardner Dozois’s acclaimed short fiction is finally collected in a definitive edition of his work. Including Nebula Award winners such as “Morning Child” and nominees “Disciples” and “A Dream at Noonday,” When the Great Days Come is a must for any science fiction reader. When the Great Days Come proves that Dozois is not just one of science fiction’s best editors of short fiction, but one of its best writers as well.

 

 

Shattered Peace, by Ashley Loomis Malin

Louis Thorn feared that the dragons would die out forever if they did not leave, so with the help of his magical crystal ball and his own gifted knowledge, he created a new and everlasting peaceful world as a safe haven for the dragons. There, sheltered from their enemies, the precious creatures could live in joy and harmony. Lest the crystal ball that created this sanctuary be broken, Louis Thorn created three portals to which the dragons could escape: one led back to Tarsha, the second to the Fairy World, and the third to a kingdom not yet discovered by mortalsthe Portal of Mysteries. As Louis Thorn had predicted, when the dragons heard of the world of plenty that awaited them, they departed from Tarsha for good. With them came forth another kind of human. Upon entering the Dragon World, these people were given the gift of immortality and their own special powers, and became known to all as the Far Riders. After many battles to claim this world, against the allies of the Fairy Queen from the Dark Border, they lived peacefully together, and no dragons would be seen in the kingdom of Tarsha again … … Until…

Paradise Tales: And Other Stories, by Geoff Ryman

Often contemplative and subtly ironic, the 16 stories in this outstanding collection work imaginative riffs on a variety of fantasy and SF themes. “Pol Pot’s Beautiful Daughter,” a Cambodian ghost story, and “The Last Ten Years in the Life of Hero Kai,” a samurai-style narrative, have the delicacy of Asian folktales or lyrical fantasies. By contrast, “V.A.O.,” about a future society destabilized by prohibitively expensive health care, and “The Film-makers of Mars,” which suggests that Edgar Rice Burroughs’s John Carter stories were drawn from life, are set in futures that credibly extrapolate current scientific and cultural trends. Ryman (The King’s Last Song) frequently explores human emotional needs in heartless environments, as in “Warmth,” which poignantly portrays a young boy’s bond with his robot surrogate mother. Readers of all stripes will appreciate these thoughtful tales.

Ghost Story (Dresden Files No. 13), by Jim Butcher

The eagerly awaited new novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling Dresden Files series.

When we last left the mighty wizard detective Harry Dresden, he wasn’t doing well. In fact, he had been murdered by an unknown assassin.

But being dead doesn’t stop him when his friends are in danger. Except now he has nobody, and no magic to help him. And there are also several dark spirits roaming the Chicago shadows who owe Harry some payback of their own.

To save his friends-and his own soul-Harry will have to pull off the ultimate trick without any magic…

Heroes at Odds, by Moira J. Moore

Shield Lee Mallorough and Source Shintaro Karish are steadfast in their commitment to protect Westsea no matter what disaster-natural or man- made-may befall it. But before our heroes can discern why so many people are suddenly interested in gaining control of Westsea, Lee’s family arrives with some startling news. Long before she was trained as a Shield, she was betrothed as part of an alliance with another merchant clan-and her “fiancé” is determined to see Lee fulfill her contract…

 

 

 

Shadow Fall (Shadowchasers), by Seressia Glass

Truth is the most dangerous weapon of all . . .

Kira Solomon’s life has never been simple. Battling against the Fallen, serving the Egyptian goddess Ma’at, becoming romantically involved with a 4,000-year-old Nubian warrior—these are now everyday realities. But something is changing. Kira’s magic is becoming dangerously unpredictable, tainted by the Shadow she has been trained to destroy.

Matters grow worse when an Atlanta museum exhibit based on the Egyptian Book of the Dead turns out to have truly sinister properties. As the body count rises, even long-trusted allies start to turn against Kira. She can hardly blame them—not when the God of Chaos is stalking her dreams and the shocking truth about her origins is finally coming to light. As one of the good guys, Kira was a force to be reckoned with. But if the only way to stop a terrifying adversary is to fight Shadow with Shadow, then she’s ready to find out just how very bad she can be. . . .

Stormlord’s Exile, by Glenda Larke

SHALE is finally free from his greatest enemy. But now, he is responsible for bringing life-giving rain to all the people of the Quartern. He must stretch his powers to the limit or his people will die-if they don’t meet a nomad’s blade first. And while Shale’s own highlords and waterpriests plot against him, his Reduner brother plots his revenge.

TERELLE is Shale’s secret weapon, covertly boosting his powers with her own mystical abilities. But she is compelled by the strange magic of her people and will one day have to leave Shale’s side. No one knows what waits for her across the desert, but her people gave the Quartern its first Stormlord and they may save Shale and his people once again-or lead them to their doom.

This is the final volume of the epic Stormlord series.

Eye of the Tempest (Jane True), by Nicole Peeler

Nothing says “home” like being attacked by humans with very large guns, as Jane and Anyan discover when they arrive in Rockabill. These are professionals, brought into kill, and they bring Anyan down before either Jane or the barghest can react. Seeing Anyan fall awakens a terrible power within Jane, and she nearly destroys herself taking out their attackers.

Jane wakes, weeks later, to discover that she’s not the only thing that’s been stirring. Something underneath Rockabill is coming to life: something ancient, something powerful, and something that just might destroy the world.

Jane and her friends must act, striking out on a quest that only Jane can finish. For whatever lurks beneath the Old Sow must be stopped…and Jane’s just the halfling for the job.

Sympathy for the Devil (Morris and Chastain Investigations), by Justin Gustainis

Senator Howard Stark wants to be President of the United States. So does the demon inside him. With the competing candidates dropping out due to scandal, blackmail, and ‘accidental’ death, Stark looks like a good bet to go all the way to the White House. And if he gets there, Hell on Earth will follow.

Occult investigator Quincey Morris and white witch Libby Chastain are determined to stop this evil conspiracy. But between them and Stark stand the dedicated agents of the US Secret Service – as well as the very forces of Hell itself. Quincey and Libby will risk everything to exorcise the demon possessing Stark. If they fail, ‘Hail to the Chief’ will become a funeral march – for all of us.

 

Black Night (Black Wings), by Christina Henry

Madeline Black is an Agent of death, meaning she escorts the souls of people who have died to the afterlife. Of course, not everyone is happy to see her…

If obstinate dead people were all that Maddy had to worry about, life would be much easier. But the best-laid plans of Agents and fallen angels often go awry. Deaths are occurring contrary to the natural order, Maddy’s being stalked by foes inside and outside of her family, and her two loves-her bodyguard, Gabriel, and her doughnut-loving gargoyle, Beezle-have disappeared. But because Maddy is Lucifer’s granddaughter, things are expected of her, things like delicate diplomatic missions to other realms.

 

Dangerous Waters (The Hadrumal Crisis), by Juliet E. McKenna

The Archmage rules the island of wizards. From here he enforces the Edicts of the Council of Wizardry. Foremost is the ban on magecraft in warfare. But there is a rumour of rogue wizardry in Lescar’s recent civil war. There’s the rise of Artifice, its adepts not subject to the Archmage’s edicts. Now the Emperor of Tormalin is offering them his protection. There are corsairs raiding the Caladhrian Coast, enslaving villagers and devastating trade. Barons and merchants beg for magical aid. But all help has been refused.

This is no comfort to Lady Zurenne whose husband has been murdered by corsairs. Now a man she doesn’t even know stands as guardian over her and her daughters. Corrain, former captain and now slave, knows that man is a rogue wizard, selling his skills to the corsairs. If Corrain can escape, he’ll see justice done. Unless Jilseth,  magewoman and Archmage’s confidante, can catch the renegade first, before the full extent of his villainy is revealed.

If that happens, at a time when wizardry faces so many other challenges, the scandal could have dire consequences indeed!

Dangerous Waters is the first book in a stunning new fantasy series from a major voice in fantasy.

Spell Bound (Otherworld,  book 12), by Kelley Armstrong

At last, in the novel every Kelley Armstrong fan will need to own, all the major heroines and heroes of Otherworld are united.

It’s been ten years since Bitten, the first novel in Kelley Armstrong’s New York Times bestselling Otherworld series. In that time hundreds of thousands of fans have ravenously devoured the adventures of Armstrong’s witches, demons, and werewolves. Now, in Spell Bound, she brings them all together for her most sweeping tale yet.

Savannah Levine is in terrible danger, and for once she’s powerless to help herself. At the heartbreaking conclusion of Waking the Witch, Savannah swore that she would give up her powers if it would prevent further pain for a young orphan. Little did she know that someone would take her up on that promise.

And now, witch-hunting assassins, necromancers, half-demons, and rogue witches all seem to be after her. The threat is not just for Savannah; every member of the Otherworld might be at risk. While most of her fellow supernaturals are circling the wagons at a gathering of the council in Miami, Savannah is caught on the road, isolated from those who can protect her and unable to use her vast spell-casting talent, the thing she counts on most. In a story that will change the shape of the Otherworld forever, Armstrong gathers Elena, Clay, Paige, Lucas, Jamie, Hope, and other beloved characters, who soon learn that the greatest threat to supernaturals just may come from within.

Theirs Not to Reason Why: A Soldier’s Duty, by Jean Johnson

Ia is a precog, tormented by visions of the future where her home galaxy has been devastated. To prevent this vision from coming true, Ia enlists in the Terran United Planets military with a plan to become a soldier who will inspire generations for the next three hundred years-a soldier history will call Bloody Mary.

 

 

 

 

Ghosts of War, by George Mann

NEW YORK CITY IS BEING PLAGUED BY A PACK OF FEROCIOUS BRASS RAPTORS…

…strange, skeletonlike creations with batlike wings that swoop out of the sky, attacking people and carrying them away into the night. The Ghost has been tracking these bizarre machines, and is close to finding their origin: a deranged military scientist who is slowly rebuilding himself as a machine.

However, this scientist is not working alone, and his scheme involves more than a handful of abductions. He is part of a plot to escalate the cold war with Britain into a full-blown conflict, and he is building a weapon—a weapon that will fracture dimensional space and allow the monstrous creatures that live on the other side to spill through. He and his coconspirators—a cabal of senators and businessmen who seek to benefit from the war—intend to harness these creatures and use them as a means to crush the British.

But the Ghost knows only too well how dangerous these creatures can be, and the threat they represent not just to Britain, but the world. The Ghost’s efforts to put an end to the conspiracy bring him into an uneasy alliance with a male British spy, who is loose in Manhattan protecting the interests of his country. He also has the unlikely assistance of Ginny, a drunken ex-lover and sharpshooter, who walks back into his life, having disappeared six years earlier in mysterious circumstances.

While suffering from increasingly lucid flashbacks to WWI, the Ghost is subjected to rooftop chases, a battle with a mechanized madman, and the constant threat of airborne predators, while the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Can he derail the conspiracy and prevent the war with the British from escalating beyond control?

The Devil’s Diadem, by Sara Douglass

Bestselling author Sara Douglass—acclaimed writer of the Axis and Wayfarer Redemption trilogies—invites you to visit a twelfth-century England very similar to our own—except this England is a country on the brink of demonic disaster and its only hope may lie with a young noblewoman

The Devil’s Diadem

Maeb Langtofte is lucky, she knows, to have gained a position in the household of the Earl of Pengraic—one of the most powerful men in England, a man whose holdings rival even King Edmond’s. She is lucky that his wife, Adelie, whom Maeb serves, is a kind, pious woman (in contrast to the Earl, whom Maeb finds dark and secretive). But when word arrives that a plague is sweeping through Europe like a human wildfire, everyone in the Earl’s household is put on edge. It is whispered that victims of this plague are spontaneously engulfed in flames—as if the flames of Hell had suddenly leapt up to claim them. It is also whispered that the Devil himself is to blame.

As the disease spreads into England, so too does civil unrest. King Edmond calls his lords and their armies to return to London, and the Earl obeys, leaving Maeb and his family to fend for themselves. But it turns out that the Earl has been hiding far more than simple state secrets, and that his family, left alone, is at risk of losing not only their lives but also their souls. To her horror, Maeb will learn that, indeed, the Devil himself may have arrived on her doorstep. And worse, what he demands may, in fact, be running through her very veins.

The Black Lung Captain, by Chris Wooding

Chris Wooding, author of the thrilling novel Retribution Falls, returns to a fantastical world of spectacular sky battles and high-flying heroics for another epic adventure.

Deep in the heart of the Kurg rainforest lies a long-forgotten wreck. On board, behind a magically protected door, an elusive treasure awaits. Good thing Darian Frey, captain of the airship Ketty Jay, has the daemonist Crake on board. Crake is their best chance of getting that door open—if they can sober him up. For a prize this enticing, Frey is willing to brave the legendary monsters of the forbidding island and to ally himself with a partner who’s even less trustworthy than he is.

But what’s behind that door is not what any of the fortune hunters expect, any more than they anticipate their fiercest competitor for the treasure—a woman from Frey’s past who also happens to be the most feared pirate in the skies.

Bloodlands (A Novel of the Bloodlands), by Christine Cody

It was called the New Badlands, home to the survivors of a cataclysm that altered the entire nation. Then the vampires arrived, and it was rechristened the Bloodlands. Not because of the vampire, but because of the gun-for- hire who’d decided to slay every monster in the country by any and every means necessary.

 

 

 

 

Tattoo, by Kirsten Imani Kasai

Her fate is in her flesh.
In an environmentally fragile world where human and animal genes combine, the rarest mutation of all–the Trader–can instantly switch genders. One such Trader–female Sorykah–is battling her male alter, Soryk, for dominance and the right to live a full life.

Sorykah has rescued her infant twins from mad Matuk the Collector. Her children are safe. Her journey, she believes, is over, but Matuk’s death has unleashed darker, more evil forces. Those forces–led by the Collector’s son–cast nets that stretch from the glittering capital of Neubonne to the murky depths below the frozen Sigue, where the ink of octameroons is harvested to make addictive, aphrodisiac tattoos. Bitter enemies trapped within a single skin, Sorykah and Soryk are soon drawn into a sinister web of death and deceit.

Smoketown, by Tenea D. Johnson

The city of Leiodare is unlike any other in the post-climate change United States. Within its boundaries, birds are outlawed and what was once a crater in Appalachia is now a tropical, glittering metropolis where Anna Armour is waiting. An artist by passion and a factory worker by trade, Anna is a woman of special gifts. She has chosen this beautiful, traumatized city to wait for the woman she’s lost, the one she believes can save her from her troubled past and uncertain future. When one night Anna creates life out of thin air and desperation, no one is prepared for what comes next-not Lucine, a smooth talking soothsayer with plans for the city; Lucine’s brother Eugenio who has designs of his own; Seife, a star performer in the Leiodaran cosmos; or Rory, a forefather of the city who’s lived through outbreak, heartbreak, and scandal. Told through their interlocking stories, Smoketown delves into the invisible connections that rival magic, and the cost of redemption.

The Goblin Corps, by Ari Marmell

Morthul, the dreaded Charnel King, has failed.

Centuries of plotting from the heart of the Iron Keep, deep within the dark lands of Kirol Syrreth—all for naught. Foiled at the last by the bumbling efforts of a laughable band of so-called heroes, brainless and over-muscled cretins without sense enough to recognize a hopeless cause when they take it on. Machinations developed over generations, schemes intended to deliver the world into the Dark Lord’s hands, now devastated beyond salvation. But the so-called forces of Light have paid for their meddling with the life of Princess Amalia, only child of the royal family of Shauntille.

Now, as winter solidifies its icy grip on the passes of the Brimstone Mountains, disturbing news has reached the court of Morthul. King Dororam, enraged by the murder of his only child—and accompanied by that same group of delusional upstart “heroes”—is assembling all the Allied Kingdoms, fielding an army unlike any seen before. The armies of Kirol Syrreth muster to meet the attack that is sure to come as soon as the snows have melted from the mountain paths, but their numbers are sorely depleted. Still, after uncounted centuries of survival, the Dark Lord isn’t about to go down without a fight, particularly in battle against a mortal! No, the Charnel King still has a few tricks up his putrid and tattered sleeves, and the only thing that can defeat him now…may just be the inhuman soldiers on whom he’s pinned his last hopes.

Welcome to the Goblin Corps. May the best man lose.

Shadowflame (A Novel of the Shadow World), by Dianne Sylvan

Spread throughout the dark corners of our world lies the Shadow World, a society of vampires who feed off the living. In Austin, Texas, one woman must find her place within that world, before she loses everything…

It’s been three months since musician Miranda Grey became a vampire and married David Solomon, Prime of the South. As Queen, Miranda must quickly come to terms with her new role and learn how to negotiate the treacherous waters of Signet politics, inevitably making dangerous enemies along the way.

As if complicated vampire politics and a rising music career weren’t enough, an enigmatic but powerful force from David’s past appears, leaving a wake of chaos and uncertainty for the Pair’s fledgling relationship. Miranda begins to realize how little she really knows about her husband. But when an assassin begins targeting her friends and allies, the Pair must track down the killer, even as their lives hang in the balance…

Wildefire, by Karsten Knight

Every flame begins with a spark.

Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.

Alex Van Helsing: Voice of the Undead, by Jason Henderson

Now that Alex is in the know about the deadly vampires that live–and hunt–clustered around his boarding school, everything is different. Putting his talents to use, Alex is training with the Polidorium to become a vampire hunter, just like his Van Helsing ancestors. Sure, he’s only fourteen, but c’mon, this runs in his blood.Meanwhile, Alex’s arch-nemesis Elle, a vampire whose youthful appearance and blond hair disguise a vengeful rage, is out to get him before a powerful leader called “Ultravox” arrives on the scene. Ultravox specializes in assassinations, but who is he targeting? Dodging Elle’s attacks, Alex is on a mission to uncover Ultravox’s deadly plan before his friends and his school become collateral damage. There’s no time to report back; innocent lives hang in the balance, and it’s up to Alex to act now–or else.

 

The Seeker (The Obernewtyn Chronicles), by Isobelle Carmody

New from acclaimed fantasy author Isobelle Carmody comes The Seeker, an omnibus edition of the first two books in the dystopian fantasy the Obernewtyn Chronicles—Obernewtyn and The Farseekers!

Discover the adventure! Elspeth Gordie has a secret: she’s a Misfit, born with mental powers that would mean her death if discovered. But she’s not alone, and her exile to the mysterious compound known as Obernewtyn is just the beginning….

 

 

Supernaturally (Paranormalcy), by Kiersten White

Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be… kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees.

But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself.

 

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

 

Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

What Are We Reading? One Blogger’s List of Under-The-Radar Books

I read A LOT. My average is at least one book a week, but sometimes, like recently, I can read a book in a day. So I have a lot of things I can suggest to interested readers, whether here on the website, at the bookstore I work at, or in general in my life. This list was something I’ve been wanting to put together for a while now, because, though I read a lot of what’s popular (The Hunger Games, Twilight, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Mortal Instruments, and on and on…), there are some series that I adore that more often than not tend to fall under the radar.

My area of interest is YA, so most of the books will be in that genre, but there are a few that are from regular adult fantasy or sci-fi. Also, I need to state that yes, some of these series are New York Times bestsellers, so I’m sure some of the readers here on Lytherus will have heard of or even read these books. But more often than not I’ve found that these tend to be new reads for people, so that’s why I’ve included them. Enjoy!

The Books of Pellinor

(Alison Croggon)

This is my favorite YA high fantasy series, period. I discovered this series a few years ago and devoured it. I actually had to chase down the third book in this four-book set from one of the city libraries, as my local bookstore didn’t carry it and the library I use was out of it, that’s how badly I wanted to continue reading.

Sixteen-year old Maerad is rescued from a miserable life of slavery by a mysterious bard with magical powers named Cadvan. Together they journey to a Bard School, where Maerad learns that she isn’t just an ordinary person, but that she is one foretold of, the one who will basically save the world. The magic of this land is through music, which I really loved, and though a good chunk of the series takes place during various journeys, so much is revealed that these became my favorite parts. Any lovers of high fantasy in the feel of Tolkein should check this series out!

The books are, in order: The Naming, The Riddle, The Crow, and The Singing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Time Quintet

(Madeleine L’Engle)

I first read A Wrinkle In Time in seventh grade as an English assignment. Like most books school forced me to read, the beauty and value of this story was lost on me at the time. I’m so glad I decided to revisit these books in college, as they are now some of my most beloved.

Tesseracts, the term for a way to bend space. This is what Meg Murray comes to find out her scientist parents have discovered. This knowledge is reavealed to her not by normal means, but by an eccentric stranger appearing on their doorstep in the middle of the night. Meg’s father has disappeared, and it has to do with his involvement in the Tesseract discovery. It’s up to Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and her friend Calvin to save him. And such begins the Newberry-award-winning A Wrinkle in Time.

The adventures of the Murray children continues through each book, and though these books aren’t commonly seen as Christian fiction, L’Engle mixes the secular and scientific with the spiritual to create stories that are complex and completely absorbing.

This series originally was four books (A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters), but there are other books that L’Engle wrote in the same world, and so now An Acceptable Time has been added on. If you end up reading the first four, and want to read An Acceptable Time, make sure you also check out A House Like a Lotus, which isn’t included in these five but goes hand-in-hand with the last book, and the series in general (and is very good!).

The Beggar’s Series

(Nancy Kress)

Hugo and Nebula-award-winning author Nancy Kress created the first book in this trilogy, Beggars in Spain, from a novella that won her those awards.

Leisha Camden is a little different. She is one of a few special people who were modified genetically at birth (sometime in the near future), when parents were given the options to create the baby of their dreams. Her biggest change? She doesn’t need to sleep. Ever. This alteration stopped being offered after the side-effects (super-intelligence, perfect health, and inability to age) were discovered. But by this point Leisha and others like her were in the world trying to fit in and exist where many looked upon them in fear and envy.

This book was simply fascinating. Kress does a fantastic job with the story and plot, but it was really interesting to see the main character interact with her twin sister, who is perfectly normal. Imagine the rivalry there! I thought this series was a great take on genetics and was really great sci-fi that didn’t feel like Dune or Ender’s Game. This is an awesome science fiction series, but be warned: it is definitely heavy on the technical science end, so be aware if this isn’t your thing.

The books are Beggars in Spain, Beggars and Choosers, and Beggars Ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Darkest Powers Trilogy

(Kelley Armstrong)

Though this series is a New York Times best-seller, I have yet to meet anyone else who has read these books! And that is a shame, because they are definitely worth the time. 

The series starts off with The Summoning, and is followed by The Awakening and The Reckoning. The premise is that the main character, fifteen-year-old Chloe, is placed in a home for troubled teens after she has a breakdown and is diagnosed as having Schizophrenia. Really what happened is she sees dead people. And the longer she’s at the Lyle house, the more she realizes that the other kids, in their own ways, are like her, and something fishy is going on.

there are definitely some creep-tastic scenes that gave me the chills when reading them (what would you expect when your protagonist is a necromancer?!), and an unlikely, unpredictable romance adds a nice counter to the plot of trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

This series was great, and I’d encourage fans of urban fantasy or paranormal romance to give it a shot.

Gregor: The Underland Chronicles

(Suzanne Collins)

Superstar author Suzanne Collins is a household name in the literary world, thanks to her amazing dystopian series The Hunger Games. But that is Collins’ second series. Her first is one of my all-time favorites, and one I re-read often, Gregor: The Underland Chronicles.

Collins, when she set out to write the Gregor the Overlander series said she wanted it to be like Alice in Wonderland for people who live in the city. Twelve-year-old Gregor, with his toddler sister, goes to the basement of their New York City apartment to do laundry. They end up falling through the vent to a whole world deep underneath the city. There are giant talking cockroaches (which are surprisingly awesome), huge talking bats that people can ride, enormous talking rats, and humans with luminescent transparent skin, white hair, and violet eyes. Of course there is a prophecy which involves Gregor, which keeps him coming back again and again to help the beings of this world. 

The characters are wonderful, and are my favorite part of the series. The world is amazing, and the interactions between Gregor and his sister and all the Underlanders is fascinating. But at its core this series is an all-out adventure, and each book builds on the last while still having its own self-contained adventure. I love love LOVE this series and I definitely encourage fans of light fantasy and talking animals to check it out.

The series in order is: Gregor the Overlander, Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor and the Marks of Secret, and Gregor and the Code of Claw.

The Classic Tales of Partholon

(P. C. Cast)

These books have been around since the mid 2000’s, but because of P. C. Cast’s recent popularity with the House of Night books, they have been re-issued with updated covers. It seems like there are six books written in this world; I have five of them, having only discovered the sixth one the other day (it’s called Divine Beginnings, and it is in e-book format only). The first three, Divine by Mistake, Divine by Choice, and Divine by Blood, center around a human, Shannon Parker, who on her vacation picks up a magical Grecian-style vase (unbeknown to her), which teleports her into the body of an ancient goddess-on-earth, days before she is to be wed… to a centaur. The story only gets better from this point as Shannon tries to figure out how to function in this alien body and this foreign world.

The two books I want to focus on, however, are ones set in the same world, which take place over a hundred years later: Elphame’s Choice and Brighid’s Quest. These are set completely in the world of Partholon. The characters are in the aftermath of what occurred in the previous books, and the main characters, part of the ‘royal’ family, try and make their own mark on the world. These are consecutive, so you get to stick with the same characters for a while, which I like. It’s also fun that the title characters aren’t entirely human: Elphame is a faun and Brighid is a centaur.

Two words of advice on these. One, the entire series has some pretty heavy and graphic sex scenes, so if that isn’t your thing this is a series to stay clear of. And two, though I prefer the latter two books, reading the earlier ones (which are still quite enjoyable) makes it easier to understand what’s happening in the world overall.

The Parasol Protectorate

(Gail Carriger)

This series is dear to my heart because it was my first introduction into the world of Steampunk, which has now become one of my favorite genres to read. I sort of fell into discovering this series, but I’m so happy that I did!

The first three books in this five book series (Soulless, Changeless, and Blameless) are currently out, with book four, Heartless, to be released this summer.

The time is turn-of-the-century Victorian England. But in this world, there are vampires and werewolves running about, which in and of itself makes things interesting. To make it even more interesting, our main character, Alexia Tarabotti, has no soul, the interesting side-effect of which negates any supernatural powers or the aforementioned beings.

But the thing that makes this series great is that she writes with the feel of the era, which makes these books charming, funny, and believable, despite their supernatural elements. One of the first scenes in the book is Alexia getting attacked by a vampire in a library who has (Heaven forbid!) a lisp! She is thoroughly affronted by this breech in manners. And so begins what is one of the most delightful, fun, suspenseful, adventurous series I’ve read in a long time. If any of this interests you, or if you’ve always been curious about Steampunk but aren’t sure where to start (this is a good choice, the Steampunk elements in it are rather mild in comparison to some things I’ve read), definitely check out these books.


The Dark is Rising Sequence

(Susan Cooper)

This series is another one that came into my life thanks to assigned reading in school. But don’t be fooled. This series is one that everyone can enjoy. You know how some people have books they re-read every year? This series is that for me.

The five books in order are: Over Sea, Under Stone; The Dark is Rising; Greewitch; The Grey King; and Silver on the Tree.


One of the great things about this series is that, in book one you have three siblings as the main characters, in book two you have someone different (an eleven-year-old boy named Will Stanton), but in books three four and five, they come together, even though they don’t know each other prior to the adventure they find themselves in.

The Dark is rising to destroy the earth. Its powers are building, and the Light only has so much time to mount a resistance. They are looking for items of power to help them stand up to the Dark: A Chalice, a Harp, and six  signs, objects made from the various elements. And that is what the first four books in the series are about, in essence: a race against the baddies to get the items of power.

Two of the books in this series are Newberry books, one a winner and one an Honor book, which means that, though they are a great adventure, they are good literature too. Also, something else fun about them is the overlying theme of King Arthur that comes into play. This book isn’t too heavy on that aspect, it’s more about the upcoming battle for all of humanity, but it adds a nice, believable element all the same. This series has also made me want to visit Wales. Book four teaches the reader how to read Welsh through the characters, and the descriptions make it sound breathtaking.

This is really high up on my must-read list if you like well-written stories with adventure and fantasy elements in them.

The Study Books

(Maria V. Snyder)

Jackie (the Comics Guru here on Lytherus) is one of my best friends, and I discovered these books on her bookshelf when I was cat-sitting for her once. They are wonderful, easy, and absorbing reads that make you wonder where the time goes. 

The three books in the series are Poison Study, Magic Study, and Fire Study. The premise alone sounded interesting: the main character Yelena is the food taster to the king, the one to try everything first, in case it is poisoned. She was set to be killed, and this seemed like a nice reprieve from, you know, certain death. But this offer comes with a price, besides the obvious chance poisioning: the head of security actually did poison her with the world’s most deadliest poison, and she needs to come to him daily for the antidote, or she’ll be dead by morning. Why did he do this? To keep her close because she’s supposedly dangerous and he doesn’t trust her. Of course she soon develops magical powers she can’t control (gotta have a little fantasy in my books, if you haven’t noticed!), and things just keep mounting one after the other in the world around her as she slowly discovers the role the has to play is more than just as the food taster.

This series is enjoyable. I loved the characters, and it had a different feel than the types of common fantasy out there. that are currently popular. It is more high fantasy than anything, but it is so character-focused that the world really takes a backseat to the wonderful development of Yelena’s life. And there is great romance elements throughout the series, not the typical, predictable kind, which only makes it better. I must also note that the first book in the series was Snyder’s debut book, and she has come to publish a lot more recently, thanks to her successes. Definitely check this series out.

Fablehaven

(Brandon Mull)

Siblings Kendra and Seth spend the summer with grandparents they hardly know on their farm. But their farm isn’t just a regular farm; it’s a haven for magical creatures. And so begins the five-book epic series by Brandon Mull, which has become one of my favorite series.

As the story progresses, the reader learns that there are havens like this all over the world, sworn to protect that which is slowly disappearing. A few of these are special though; they contain magical items of power, that if brought together have the ability to destroy the world.

Of course there is a bad guy after these things, so Kendra and Seth race against time to try and stop him.

That’s the basic plot of the story arc. But there are soooo many other amazing elements to this book. Every type of fantasy fairy creature you can think of appears somewhere in the series. And there are amazing mazes the kids need to navigate to get to the items of power, which in and of themselves are really cool and well-written. Adventure aside though, the character development is fantastic and complex. The journey Kendra and Seth go on, the things they experience together and apart, make for some of the best YA fantasy out there now, in my opinion. Not high fantasy by any means, but just creative and well-done. This truly is one of the best series I’ve read in recent years, and I recommend it all the time.

The books, in order, are: Fablehaven; Fablehaven:Rise of the Evening Star; Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague; Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary; and Fablehaven: Keys to the Demon Prison.

Book News, Books, News

New Releases, Week of April 11th, 2011

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

Released Monday, April 11th, 2011

The Company Man, by Robert Jackson Bennett

The year is 1919.

The McNaughton Corporation is the pinnacle of American industry. They built the guns that won the Great War before it even began. They built the airships that tie the world together. And, above all, they built Evesden-a shining metropolis, the best that the world has to offer.

But something is rotten at the heart of the city. Deep underground, a trolley car pulls into a station with eleven dead bodies inside. Four minutes before, the victims were seen boarding at the previous station. Eleven men butchered by hand in the blink of an eye. All are dead. And all are union.

Now, one man, Cyril Hayes, must fix this. There is a dark secret behind the inventions of McNaughton and with a war brewing between the executives and the workers, the truth must be discovered before the whole city burns. Caught between the union and the company, between the police and the victims, Hayes must uncover the mystery before it kills him.

Released Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide, by Stephenie Meyer

This must-have hardcover edition–the only official guide–is the definitive encyclopedic reference to the Twilight Saga and provides readers with everything they need to further explore the unforgettable world Stephenie Meyer created in Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn,and The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. This comprehensive handbook—essential for every Twilight Saga fan—is full-color throughout with nearly 100 gorgeous illustrations and photographs and with exclusive new material, character profiles, genealogical charts, maps, extensive cross-references, and much more.

My Unfair Godmother, by Janette Rallison

Tansy Miller has always felt that her divorced father has never had enough time for her. But mistakenly getting caught on the wrong side of the law wasn’ texactly how she wanted to get his attention. Enter Chrysanthemum “Chrissy” Everstar, Tansy’s fairy in shining, er, high heels. Chrissy is only a fair godmother, of course, so Tansy’s three wishes don’t exactly go according to plan. And if bringing Robin Hood to the twenty-first century isn’t bad enough for Tansy, being transported back to the Middle Ages to deal with Rumpelstiltskin certainly is. She’ll need the help of her blended family, her wits, and especially the cute police chief ‘s son to stop the gold-spinning story from spinning wildly out of control. Janette Rallison pulls out all the stops in this fresh, fun-filled follow-up to the popular My Fair Godmother.

The Gathering (Darkness Rising, Book 1), by Kelley Armstrong

Strange things are happening in Maya’s tiny Vancouver Island town. First, her friend Serena, the captain of the swim team, drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Then, one year later, mountain lions are spotted rather frequently around Maya’s home—and her reactions to them are somewhat . . . unexpected. Her best friend, Daniel, has also been experiencing unexplainable premonitions about certain people and situations.

It doesn’t help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret, and he’s interested in one special part of Maya’s anatomy—her paw-print birthmark.

A Kingdom Besieged: Book One of the Chaoswar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist

After nearly thirty years and more than two dozen novels, Raymond E. Feist’s Riftwar Cycle has become one of the most iconic, beloved, and enduring sagas in modern fantasy. The Riftwars—including the original Riftwar, the Serpentwar, the Darkwar, and the Demonwar—were epic battles between Good and Evil whose ramifications have echoed through generations. The latest entry in the epic, A Kingdom Besieged, ushers in the most fearsome threat the Kingdom has yet faced—the Chaoswar—a magic apocalypse with cataclysmic results.

A Kingdom Besieged

Years ago, the Empire of Great Kesh failed in its attempt to conquer Krondor after the Serpentwar, thanks to the bravery, cunning, and magic of the sorcerer Pug and the Conclave of Shadows. Since then, peace has benefitted both nations, and the Kingdom has been free from the threat of another Keshian invasion. Yet now, the dark clouds of war gather again. . . .

From the Far Coast in the west to the frontier with the Eastern Kingdoms, rumors, uncertainty, and political instability are rampant. Spies have gone missing—some were murdered while others have turned traitor. Factions are rising, powerful legions from the Keshian Confederacy have been mobilized, and an attack on the kingdoms of the Isles and Roldem is all but certain.

As the men of the Western Realm begin to mount a defense, Martin conDoin, the middle son of Lord Henry, Duke of Crydee, finds himself leading the charge against the invaders—like his legendary ancestor, Prince Arutha, who stood firm to the death against the Tsurani invasion. But Arutha had an entire army at his command. Martin has just a ragtag force comprised of a few old men and young boys.

As Kesh’s invading hordes once again descend upon the Kingdom, no one is safe—not experienced masters of intrigue Lord James Dasher Jamison and the beguiling and deadly Lady Franciezka; not the brave warrior Knight-Adamant Sandreena and a new generation of loyal yet untested defenders; not even the great Pug himself, the most powerful magician the world of Midkemia has ever known. A threat far more terrifying has arisen, an evil whose burgeoning power portends Midkemia’s demise. And soon even the Kingdom’s enchanted defender will find himself questioning everything he’s ever held abiding, true, and treasured . . . including the loyalty and desires of his beloved son, Magnus.

The Tomes of the Dead: The Viking Dead, by Toby Venables

976 AD – Northern Europe. BjÓlf and the viking crew of the ship Hrafn flee up an unknown river after a bitter battle, only to find themselves in a bleak land of pestilence. The dead don’t lie down, but become what the villagers call draugr – the undead – returning to feed on the flesh of their kin. Terrible stories are told of a dark castle in a hidden fjord, and of black ships that come raiding with invincible draugr berserkers. And no sooner has BjÓlf resolved to leave, than the black ships appear… Now stranded, his men cursed by the contagion of walking death, BjÓlf has one choice: fight his way through a forest teeming with zombies, invade the castle and find the secret of the horrific condition – or submit to an eternity of shambling, soulless undeath!

Starcraft II: Devil’s Due, by Christie Golden

The year is 2494. Almost five years ago, Jim Raynor and Tychus Findlay were members of the Heaven’s Devils, an elite Confederate marine unit praised for its nerves of steeland combat expertise. After making a stand against their corrupt commanding officer, the two men were forced to go AWOL or risk being unjustly prosecuted and resocialized.

Now, Raynor and Findlay are outlaws hounded by an unyielding interstellar marshal. Life, however, has never beenbetter. Each day is another chance to pilfer more credits from the Confederacy’s deep coffers. Each night holds the promise of spending their hard-earned profits in bars, brothels, and gambling halls. But a man can only run so far before the law—and his past—catch up with him. . . .

Devils’ Due recounts an unforgettable period of Jim Raynor’s life as he descends into the Koprulu sector’s criminal underworld alongside the street-savvy Findlay. Here, far from his humble upbringing on the fringe world of Shiloh, Raynor will face some of the most trying challenges of his life. The decisions he makes will alter his destiny forever and put his father’s oft-spoken wisdom, “A man is what he chooses to be,” to the ultimate test.

Battle in the Dawn: The Complete Hok the Mighty (Planet Stories), by Manly Wade Wellman

In the 1930s, a very unusual tale appeared in the influential Amazing Stories magazine. Unlike the usual yarns of robots and interstellar travel, this “Battle in the Dawn” featured the brutal exploits of Hok, the first hero of humanity, in his struggles against the savage Neanderthals. Written by rising pulpster Manly Wade Wellman (Who Fears the Devil?), who would later achieve fame for his American folktales of Silver John and beat out William Faulkner for a prestigious writing award, the story and its brave hero struck a chord with Amazing’s readers, and several additional adventures followed, taking Hok through the prehistory of mankind to battle unrelenting cavemen, explore the lost city of Atlantis, discover new technology, and chart a new destiny for humanity. Now, for the first time ever, Planet Stories presents a complete authorized collection of all of Wellman’s rare Hok the Mighty tales, packed with unfinished story fragments, all-new illustrations, and a brand-new introduction by Wellman’s longtime friend, fantasy author David Drake.

The Unremembered: Book One of the Vault of Heaven, by Peter Orullian

Summoned from the bucolic Hollows by a wizardly stranger and an elven Far, untested orphans Tahn, Wendra, and Sutter set out on a perilous and mysterious quest, soon grievously menaced by evil minions of a god who seeks world domination. Meanwhile, a capital city braces for invasion. This well-worn epic fantasy formula suffers from an inflated, pretentious creation-myth prologue, unprepared shifts in point of view, and jerkily inserted gobbets of history. Nevertheless, Orullian often achieves convincing poignancy in the relationships he develops among his young protagonists. Young devotees of long, long fantasy journeys and adolescent comings-of-age may enjoy the near-endless succession of deadly adventures in Orullian’s elaborate world, but those yearning for linguistic and philosophical depth will have to look elsewhere.

Shadow Chaser: Book Two of the Chronicles of Siala, by Alexey Pehov

Saddened because they have left one of their number in a grave in the wilderness, Harold and his companions continue their journey to the dreaded underground palace of Hrad Spein. There, knowing that armies of warriors and wizards before them have failed, they must fight legions of untold, mysterious powers before they can complete their quest for the magic horn that will save their beloved land from The Nameless One. But before they can even reach their goal, they must overcome all manner of obstacles, fight many battles…and evade the frightful enemies on their trail.

Shadow Chaser is a novel of intricate plots, surprising twists and finely drawn characters that will not leave you when you put the book down.Shadow Chaser is truly something different in the world of fantasy, something special; it is something truly Russian, a fantasy that is gripping and haunting, fascinating and imaginative.

After the Golden Age, by Carrie Vaughn

Vaughn (Discord’s Apple) delivers a loving homage to classic superheroes, throwing in layers of darkness and realism while avoiding the cynical satire and deconstruction common in contemporary comics. Forensic accountant Celia West is the powerless and estranged daughter of two of Commerce City’s great heroes, Captain Olympus and Spark. When the city prosecutes the evil Destructor for tax evasion, Celia gets pulled in to track down evidence. As a new crime spree creates tension between the city’s heroes and the police force, Celia’s investigation uncovers long-buried secrets about her family and the city. Vaughn throws in elements of romance and humor, but the drama between Celia and her father really drives the story. The story is very accessible to readers who have never picked up a comic book while boasting plenty of clever in-jokes for fans of golden age superheroics.

All the Lives He Led: A Novel, by Frederik Pohl

In a tired, terrorist-plagued 2079 still reeling from the aftereffects of a massive Yellowstone eruption, Brad Sheridan escapes from America’s refugee camps by signing up for an overseas indenture. Chance earns him a spot working in Italy’s lavish commemoration of the 2,000th anniversary of the destruction of Pompeii. Beneath quiescent Vesuvius, tourists enjoy entertainments real and virtual. Ben’s ambition is limited to minor scams and romance, but fate places him near the epicenter of a terrorist plot of unprecedented scale. This seminihilistic novel, reminiscent of Mining the Oort and The Cool War, is not among Pohl’s best only because the Grand Master’s previous novels have set such a high standard, and it stands as a demonstration of his continuing strengths in the eighth decade of his career.

Released Thursday, April 14th, 2011

The White Luck Warrior: The Aspect Emperor, Book 2, by R. Scott Bakker

Widely praised by reviewers and a growing body of fans, R. Scott Bakker has already established his reputation as one of the few unique new talents in the fantasy genre. Now he returns with the long-awaited The White Luck Warrior–the second book in the Aspect-Emperor series.

As Anasûrimbor Kellhus and his Great Ordeal march ever farther into the wastes of the Ancient North, Esmenet finds herself at war with not only the Gods, but her own family as well. Achamian, meanwhile, leads his own ragtag expedition to the legendary ruins of Sauglish, and to a truth he can scarcely survive, let alone comprehend. Into this tumult walks the White-Luck Warrior, assassin and messiah both.

The White Luck Warrior is a story filled with heartstopping action, devious treachery, grand passion, and meticulous detail. It is both a classic quest tale and a high fantasy war story.

Life on Mars: Tales from the New Frontier, by Jonathan Strahan

Mars! The Red Planet! For generations, people have wondered what it would be like to travel to and live there. That curiosity has inspired some of the most durable science fiction, including Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles and the work of Isaac Asimov. Now the award-winning anthologist Jonathan Strahan has brought together thirteen original stories to explore the possibilities. After reading Life on Mars, readers will never look at the fourth planet from the sun the same way again.

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