Today’s round up focuses on the mysterious and thought-provoking, with a few detours into scary territory. I’ve curated carefully, because I love you, and all books are $5 and under (as always, doublecheck before you click the BUY button.) You’re sure to find something here to fatten up your TBR!
Now, I have a Kindle, but if that’s not your jam, do check out other ebook platforms, because these discounts are frequently universal!
I’m always thrilled to have Dave Zeltserman on the blog, and today he stopped by to talk about his brand new book, The Boy Who Killed Demons! Just in time for Halloween, too!
Will you tell us a little about your new book, THE BOY WHO KILLED DEMONS?
Demons is written as a journal by a 15 year-old high school student, Henry Dudlow, and it chronicles his struggles to keep the world safe from demons. When Henry was 13 he was a normal, outgoing kid, but then he started seeing certain people as demons, and things change dramatically for him. After convincing himself that these really are demons, he sets about to determine what the demons are up to, and when he discovers that they’re trying to open the gates to hell, he has to do whatever it takes to stop them.
Henry Dudlow is only 15 years old. What made you decide to write such a young protagonist, and why do you think readers will root for him?
Some ideas for my books come from newspaper stories, others just pop into my head. With The Caretaker of Lorne Field, the idea was what if there’s a mythology that no one believes in anymore except the caretaker, and that this caretaker must weed a field every day or the world will end? With it was what if a high school kid is the only one who can see demons for what they are and ends up having to do really bad things to save the world? Once the idea took root and I started playing a bunch of what-if games, I had a book that I needed to write.
Henry’s power and resulting responsibility is a terrible one, especially for a 15 year-old to have to carry. Not surprisingly, at times he comes off as angry, sarcastic, and aloof, but ultimately he’s heroic, and the sacrifices he makes to save the world are heartbreaking, and I think it will be hard for readers not to care about him.
You may know the name Ben Tripp from his Rise Again series, but his brand new book (something very different), The Accidental Highwayman (and his first book for teens), just came out! I’m thrilled that he stopped by to answer a few of my questions, so please give him a warm welcome!
Congrats on the new book! Will you tell us more about The Accidental Highwayman and what inspired you to write it?
Thank you. I’m very excited about this project. The Accidental Highwayman is the first in the Adventures of Kit Bristol trilogy. It comes from what you might call the overstuffed attic of my mind — where all the bits and pieces of ideas, memories, and daydreams end up.
As a boy in England I was always wandering the meadows and lanes, filling the world around me with imaginary folk. Forty years later, I realized they were still about, and it was time to tell their stories. Up to the attic I went and out they came.
Tell us more about Kit and Morgana. Why do you think readers will root for them, and what did you enjoy most about writing their characters?
I really enjoyed writing the ‘opposites attract’ relationship. They focus on their differences, and all the while it’s the things they have in common which are their strengths. There’s also an interesting dynamic at play between them in that Kit, who narrates, is really telling her story, insofar as he knows it. His adventures are the result of Morgana’s arc. He’s not the chosen one, the center of events — she is — and he’s happy to assist her however he can.
The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman (Berkley, Oct. 7th, 2014)-I know what you’re thinking (or might be thinking): ugh, vampires, soooo done to death (sorry about that). But bear with me, here. We’re talking about Christopher Buehlman, author of Those Across the River, The Necromancer’s House, and Between Two Fires. This man has a very solid history of excellence, so when I saw that The Lesser Dead was a vampire tale, I didn’t hesitate for even a second.
Joey Peacock looks eternally 14, but is actually in his 50s in 1978 New York City. He is, of course, also a vampire. He’s more than a bit cocky, considers himself a ladies man, and loves to look sharp. Well, as sharp as one can possibly look when their home is in the tunnels that run under the city. That’s ok, though, because Joey can glamour a victim in the blink of an eye. He has a family, of sorts, consisting mainly of Margaret (their tough as nails leader), and the elderly Cvetko, who harbors a fatherly affection for Joey. There are others, but they play the biggest parts in Joey’s life (or undeath). By 1978, Joey has fallen into a bit of a routine, and even has a family (mom, dad, son) that he regularly charms and feeds from. It may not be the ideal life, but it’s all he has, and if a bit of ennui has set in, well…that’s about to change. Margaret’s group has always been fairly careful to avoid killing their victims (which they call “peeling”), mainly to keep the cops off their scent as opposed to any real sense of moral responsibility. However, when they discover a feral pack of child vampires that not only kill, but play with their victims like a cat plays with a mouse, they must decide what to do about this very serious problem.
Welcome to the “where” stop of Charles Finch’s Whodunnit Tour! His newest Charles Lennox mystery, THE LAWS OF MURDER, will be out on Nov. 11th, and we’ve also got a copy to giveaway to one lucky US winner, courtesy of the nice folks at St. Martin’s Press!
England, the country I write about in the series of mystery novels I write, has gone by so many aliases in fiction over the years that it’s taken on a kind of magical second life, in which the Shire is laid like a thin veil over Cornwall, and Lyra’s Jordan College lives in the shadows of Oxford’s cobblestoned streets. When I visit the country now I feel as if I’m seeing both places. America doesn’t have that doubleness in exactly the same way, nor France, nor anywhere really, which is part of what’s so wonderful about England as a country.
There’s a temptation to write in each of the two Englands, too. In my sixth Lenox book, A Death in the Small Hours, I invented a village called Plumbley. It was an amalgam of several real villages I’ve known – I lived in England for several years, and spent time in Burford, in Chipping Norton – but it also owed a great deal to the fictional villages of Jane Austen, Anthony Trollope, and Arthur Conan Doyle, with their friendly intimacy and their long-held secrets.
Then again, my books are dotted with real places, too. For instance, there’s Gordon’s, the ancient, spectral underground wine bar near Hungerford Bridge, which is always one of the first places I visit when I’m in London, or Buckingham Palace, where Lenox is called to investigate a seemingly random break-in in An Old Betrayal. The ultimate compromise for me is Hampden Lane, which readers of the series will know is the small, leafy street off Grosvenor Square where Lenox has lived throughout the series – made up, along with its cozy bookseller’s and its baker’s on the corner, but based on a dozen Mayfair side streets I walk through with great pleasure (and my notebook out) every time I’m in the neighborhood.
Love thrillers chock full of science? Courtesy of the lovely folks at Tor/Forge, we’ve got 1 copy of ARK STORM by Linda Davies to give away to one lucky US winner, so check out the book, fill out the widget, and I’ll pick a winner on or around 10/26!
About ARK STORM:
The Ark Storm is coming—a catastrophic weather event that will unleash massive floods and wreak more damage on California than the feared “Big One.” One man wants to profit from it. Another wants to harness it to wage jihad on American soil. One woman stands in their way: Dr. Gwen Boudain, a brave and brilliant meteorologist.
When Boudain notices that her climate readings are off the charts, she turns to Gabriel Messenger for research funding. Messenger’s company is working on a program that ionizes water molecules to bring rain on command. Meanwhile, Wall Street suits notice that someone is placing six-month bets on the prospect of an utter apocalypse and begin to investigate. Standing in the shadows is journalist Dan Jacobsen, a former Navy SEAL. War hardened, cynical, and handsome, Jacobsen is a man with his own hidden agenda.
Linda Davies’s Ark Storm brings together the worlds of finance, scientific innovation, and terrorism in a fast-paced thrill ride that will leave readers gasping.
Jon Bassoff’s brand new book, Factory Town, just came out this month from DarkFuse, and he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about it, and more!
I’m very, very excited about Factory Town! Will you tell us more about it?
Well, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever written before. My writing tends toward the surreal and the grotesque, but I certainly went a bit overboard with this one. At the heart of the novel we’ve got a pretty standard storyline—a girl has gone missing, and this fellow Russell Carver is put in charge of searching for her. But the town in which he is conducting his search is so strange, so nightmarish, that he keeps getting further and further from the truth. And as the novel moves forward we start to understand that the real mystery has less to do with where the girl is, and more to do with who the girl is. The novel’s not an easy one. The plot is nonlinear. Characters appear out of nowhere and take on new personas. There are also multiple story lines that are incongruous to each other. So, yeah, it can be frustrating, but if you work hard enough I think you’ll be able to figure out what the hell is happening…
What do you think makes Factory Town so scary?
The town itself is forbidding with crumbling buildings and vacant lots and abandoned factories. And everybody we meet seems to have their own dark secrets. But the thing that has always terrified me is the loss of sanity, and in this book the entire world is insane. And then you’ve got the narrator who is slowly discovering terrible secrets about his own past, and that can be pretty terrifying as well.
We Are Not Good People by Jeff Somers (Gallery, Oct 7th, 2014)-Warning: I reviewed Trickster a while back, and this is the coverage of book 2 in the Ustari series, which is included in one volume here with Trickster, so there are inevitable spoilers for the first book. If you’re not caught up, feel free to catch my Trickster review. Otherwise, proceed at your own risk!
I was blown away by Trickster, the first in the Ustari series, and if anything, Jeff Somers upped the ante exponentially in Book 2 (or Part 2), which starts on page 258 if you’ve already read Trickster, but hey, I’m all for a seamless experience, so I definitely encourage you to read the whole thing all the way through. I’m going to try to give you the scoop without giving too much away about part one, so we’ll see how it goes. Anyway, the end of part one resulted in Mad Day (rioting, killing, suicide, rivers of blood, mass murder, all over the world-bad news), in spite of Lem Vonnegan’s best efforts to defeat Cal Amir and the even more terrible (if that’s possible) Mika Renar in their coordinated efforts to bleed the world dry and become immortal. Book 2 picks up about 6 months after Mad Day, which has turned into more than a day, in fact, the whole world has gone bonkers and cities have fallen, millions have died. Claire, who was the cornerstone of Amir and Renar’s evil plan has disappeared and Mika Renar is at large. Lem and Mags have been recruited by Melanie Billington, a minor mage, to prepare for war, and they have what Lem has dubbed the Asshole Army at their backs, starry eyed folks that look at Lem like he’s a savior and are ready to bleed at the drop of a hat, but he feels anything but.
Elissa Sussman’s debut fantasy, STRAY, just came out this month, and she kindly took a few moments out of her very busy schedule to answer a few of my questions. Please welcome her to the blog!
Congrats on the new book! Will you tell us a bit more about Stray and what inspired you to write it?
Thank you! Stray is an original fairy tale about fairy godmothers, feminism and food. I came up with bare bones of the story – a school for fairy godmothers – when I was in college and re-watching Disney’s Cinderella for a paper I was doing on the representation of women in animated films (I’m a huge animation nerd). It struck me how little we know about fairy godmothers within the scope of fairy tales and how strange it is that characters with such extraordinary powers seem to exist only to help others.
Why do you think readers will root for Aislynn, and what did you enjoy most about writing her character?
I love how much Aislynn changes throughout the book and how much she doesn’t. She’s faced with a lot of unexpected change and at times is very naïve and scared. I really wanted Stray to be a story about how confusing and complicated it is to question the life you’ve always known.
Stray is strongly influenced by fairy tales…what was one of your favorite fairy tales or stories when you were young?
One of my favorite fairy tales is East of the Sun, West of the Moon. The first half is a cross between Beauty and the Beast and the story of Cupid and Psyche, the second half is a good old fashioned quest, only it’s the young woman who has to go rescue the prince from the troll queen’s curse. It’s somewhat similar to Rosamund Hodge’s excellent Cruel Beauty, though with a different kind of quest and curse.
The Wolf in Winter by John Connolly (Emily Bestler, Oct 28th, 2014)-Prosperous, Maine is an interesting little town. The name is a perfect fit, because for ages, they’ve been a town of prosper, and tolerance, and general well-being, and if their little church, the Congregation of Adam Before Eve & Eve Before Adam (brought brick by brick from Northumbria, in England), is a little odd, well, there are always odd little things in small towns, right? Outsiders are not very welcome, and home sales, who leave, who stays and just about everything else, are tightly monitored and decided by the town selectmen. Things are not looking good in Prosperous right now, though. A homeless man named Jude has died by apparent suicide and his daughter Annie, who has had problems of her own, has gone missing, and she’s thought to have gone to Prosperous. Before he died, Jude, with very modest resources, planned to hire Charlie Parker to look into his daughter’s disappearance, and word does indeed get back to Charlie.
It’s almost impossible for Charlie to ignore someone in need, and when he follows up on Jude’s “suicide”, something doesn’t look right, and he starts asking around. When he visits Prosperous, their police chief, Lucas Morland, seems to be forthcoming, and he even escorts Charlie to their “quaint” little church but all paths seem to lead to Prosperous, and Paster Warraner rubs Charlie the wrong way, as do the very creepy carvings in the upper corners of each wall; faces right out of some dark fairy tale. Charlie knows something is going on, but finding out what will be a chore, so he calls on some friends for help. Little does he know he’s been marked to die, and his enemies are legion. But as we know, Charlie’s got lots of friends, and a reputation that precedes him, but will it be enough, and will he find out what really happened to Jude and Annie?