My Bookish Ways

May 2014 Must Reads in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Here are the  books that I’m especially looking forward to in SFF for May (click on the covers to pre-order)! Note I took out the Top 10, because I never (ever) can keep it to just 10. These are in no particular order. 


Gemsigns by Stephanie Saulter (Jo Fletcher Books-May 6th)

Synopsis-Starburst magazine raved that Gemsigns, the first novel in a series, is “a fascinating and compelling read, exploring the boundaries of human behavior, religious influences, and the morality of the everyday person. It comes highly recommended.”

For years the human race was under attack from a deadly Syndrome, but when a cure was found – in the form of genetically engineered human beings, Gems—the line between survival and ethics was radically altered. Now the Gems are fighting for their freedom, from the oppression of the companies that created them, and against the Norms who see them as slaves. And a conference at which Dr Eli Walker has been commissioned to present his findings on the Gems is the key to that freedom. But with the Gemtech companies fighting to keep the Gems enslaved, and the horrifying godgangs determined to rid the earth of these ‘unholy’ creations, the Gems are up against forces that may just be too powerful to oppose.

featherboundFeather Bound by Sarah Raughley (Strange Chemistry-May 6th)
Synopsis-When Deanna’s missing friend Hyde turns up at his father’s funeral to claim his corporate empire and inheritance, she is swept into his glittering world of paparazzi and wealth.

But re-kindling her friendship and the dizzying new emotions along for the ride are the least of her concerns. Because Deanna has a secret – and somebody knows. Someone who is out to get Hyde. And if she doesn’t play along, and help the enemy destroy him…she will be sold to the highest bidder in the black market for human swans.

Now Deanna is struggling to break free from the gilded cage that would trap her forever…

Feather Bound is a dark debut reminiscent of Gabriel García Márquez’s A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings, and the twisted truth behind the fairy tale of Cinderella.

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Peacemaker by Marianne de Pierres

Peacemaker-CR (2)Peacemaker by Marianne de Pierres (Angry Robot, April 29th)-Virgin “Ginny” Jackson loves working at Birrimun Park, a protected piece of land set against the city sprawl of the Western Quarter. She particularly enjoys watching the sunset in the park, and one night, she discovers that she’s not alone. In fact, there’s one dead body where moments before she had heard two distinct voices. She can’t linger at the scene, however, because she’s been tasked with picking up US Marshall Nate Sixkiller from the airport. He’s arrived to help her with the increasing problem of drug runners at the park, but Virgin doesn’t really want his help. Sixkiller is brooding and enigmatic, and Virgin isn’t quite sure she can trust him, but when she’s threatened in her own home, he’s got her back, and when she starts seeing an eagle she’s named Aquila that hasn’t shown itself since she was a teen, Nate seems to know more than he’s letting on. It doesn’t help that the detective in charge of the investigation of the death in the park seems to be gunning for her, and Virgin is the prime suspect. She’ll have to go to some pretty dangerous places to find out what is really going on, and as she follows the evidence, some of it seems to lead back to her father’s death, which she’s never thought was an accident. Luckily, she’s got Sixkiller, her off and on lover, Heart, and her best friend Caro, an investigative journalist, on her side, but will it be enough to keep her out of increasingly hot water?
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Interview: Donna Glee Williams, author of The Braided Path

Please welcome Donna Glee Williams to the blog! She was kind enough to stop by and talk about her book, THE BRAIDED PATH, so give her a warm welcome!

DonnaGleeWilliamsDonna, will you tell us a little about The Braided Path and the story “Limits”’ from which it originated?
Sure, Kristin. I was staying down at The Hambidge Center in the hills of north Georgia. Your readers who write should know about this place—one of the best creative retreats in the world. Not free, but affordable. At Hambidge, each writer, artist, or musician has their own “studio”—a little cabin off in the woods where you live in total solitude except for coming down to the main lodge for stellar vegetarian meals in the evenings. (And, lemme tell you, people start to look really good to you after the isolation of the long work days. I mean, people turn beautiful on you. Witty. Charming. No kidding.) Everyone at Hambidge sets their own work schedule: For the night-owls, our shared meal is breakfast; for the larks, it’s dinner. The place may be a little rugged for serious city-sophisticates—there are stories, possibly apocryphal, about people leaving after seeing one little mouse or hearing they need to be careful of the bears, but truly, if you want to be productive, there’s no better place I know. I understand that a lot of Wicked was drafted there. A lot of The Braided Path, too.

So back about 7 years ago, I’d been at Hambidge for about a week. I’d finished a story on a Thursday night and took a break to work on learning to tie a new knot, a 14-bight Turk’s head. It was the most complicated damn knot I’d ever tried to tie. I meant it to be just a little brain-cleanser between stories, but I couldn’t get it right and I couldn’t put it down. I mean literally: I got up in the morning, worked on the knot until lunch, then worked on until dinner, then worked on it some more until bedtime. All Friday. All Saturday. All Sunday, too, with this voice in my head yacking on and on with all kinds of variations on “You’re supposed to be writing, not playing with string.” I tried to stop, I really did, but I couldn’t. This went on for three days until I’d finally accomplished that knot late Sunday afternoon. Then I went for a walk, a long, uphill slog and a “what-if” started nibbling at my brain: What if this slope went on forever?
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SF and Fantasy Kindle Deals (under $5!!)

Happy Friday! All of these Kindle titles are under $5! Get ‘em while they last!

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Mystery and Suspense Kindle Deals (under $5!!)

These #Mystery and #Suspense are all under $5 (while they last!)

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T. Jefferson Parker ebooks only $2.99!

T. Jefferson Parker is one of my favorite suspense writers, and look at all these titles from his backlist that are on sale!! Haven’t discovered his work yet? Now is the perfect time, and at only $2.99 a pop!

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A chat with Daryl Gregory, author of Afterparty

AFTERPARTY, Daryl Gregory’s excellent new book, is out next week, and I’m thrilled that he answered a few of my questions about it, and much more! Please welcome Daryl to the blog!

darylgregoryYou’re a very accomplished, award winning novelist, and your new book, Afterparty, is excellent, but did you always want to write? Will you tell us a little more about yourself and your background?
I don’t feel like I had a choice in becoming a writer. When I first started to read I automatically wanted to start telling stories too. I read everything I can get my hands on. I would show up at the checkout lane of the White Hen Pantry or the K-Mart with another comic book or cheap paperback in my hands, and my parents, God bless ’em, bought it for me every time. When I started writing, they didn’t know what to make of me, but they supported me, and let me drag my typewriter along on vacations.

I’m sure my parents would rather not hear this, but I credit much of my development as a writer to being bored to death at church. We were Southern Baptists, and went to church a lot–three times a week minimum. To keep me occupied, they let me bring notebooks to scribble in, and gradually doodles gave way to D&D maps and story ideas. I wanted to write “real” stories but I didn’t know how publishing worked. I only knew that my goal in life was to have a cheap paperback in the science fiction rack at K-Mart. I’ve yet to realize this dream, so I’m going to keep going.

What inspired you to write Afterparty? Will you tell us a little about how the idea came about?
For years I’ve been reading neuroscience and philosophy books for the layperson. I find the problems of consciousness to be really interesting, and weird facts about the way our brains work have made it into my short stories. For example, I’ve written stories about temporal lobe epilepsy, sociopathy, and the illusion of the self (as in my story “Second Person, Present Tense”). However, this was the first time I’ve tried to tackle these ideas at book length. Growing up in the church like I did, I guess it was no surprise that I’d concentrate on a new form of religion.
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Apex Operation Fourth Story: A Roundtable with AC Wise, Lisa McCurrach, and Russell Dickerson

We’ve got another fun post today in honor of Apex Magazine’s Operation Fourth Story. I asked a question, and AC Wise, Lisa McCurrach, and Russell Dickerson answered. If you’d like to support Apex, or, of course, subscribe, head on over to their website for more details!

ApexMag04Here’s my question: What have been the most rewarding/challenging aspects of writing SFF, what do you love most about the genre, and what do you enjoy most about being part of the SFF community!

AC Wise: I grew up reading SFF, from the fairy tales and ghost stories I read as a kid, to discovering Ray Bradbury in high school, and beyond. My bookshelves are crammed with novels, graphic novels, anthologies, and short story collections, almost every one of them with some sort of speculative bent. The most rewarding and challenging aspects of writing SFF are really the same thing. It’s incredible being part of the tradition I grew up loving, putting books containing words I wrote on my shelf beside the greats of the genre. It’s also intimidating, wanting to live up to those authors whose works I adore and prove myself worthy of sharing that shelf space. It’s a good motivating factor. It keeps me pushing to improve my craft and trying to do even better the next time.

What I enjoy most about being part of the SFF community is meeting so many wonderful people willing to share their knowledge, squee together over shiny things, celebrate together over victories, and console each other over losses. It’s lovely being surrounded by people who share my passion for books and general geekdom.

About AC Wise:
A.C. Wise was born and raised in Montreal, and currently lives in the Philadelphia area. She is the author of numerous short stories in print and online, and she co-edits the Journal of Unlikely Entomology. You can also find her at online at, on twitter as ac_wise, and on Google+ as A.C. Wise.

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May 2014 Must Reads in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction

Here are the  books that I’m especially looking forward to in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction for May (click on the covers to pre-order)! Note I took out the Top 10, because I never (ever) can keep it to just 10. These are in no particular order. 

plastercityPlaster City by Johnny Shaw (Thomas & Mercer-May 1st)

Synopsis (all synopsis are from Amazon or B&N)-Jimmy Veeder and Bobby Maves are back at it, two years after the events of Dove Season—they’re not exactly the luckiest guys in the Imperial Valley, but, hey, they win more fights than they lose.

Settled on his own farmland and living like a true family man after years of irresponsible fun, Jimmy’s got a straight life cut out for him. But he’s knocking years off that life thanks to fun-yet-dangerous Bobby’s booze-addled antics—especially now that Bobby is single, volatile, profane as ever, and bored as hell.

When Bobby’s teenage daughter goes missing, he and Jimmy take off on a misadventure that starts out as merely unfortunate and escalates to downright calamitous. Bobby won’t hesitate to kick a hornets’ nest to get the girl to safety, but when the rescue mission goes riotously sideways, the duo’s grit—and loyalty to each other—is put to the test.

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2014 Edgar Award Nominee Spotlight: Alex Marwood, author of The Wicked Girls

I’m thrilled to have Alex Marwood, author of THE WICKED GIRLS as my guest today in my interview series featuring 2014 Edgar Award nominees! Please give her a warm welcome!

alexmarwoodCongrats on your Edgar nom for Best Paperback Original! Will you tell us a little about THE WICKED GIRLS, and what inspired you to write it?
Thank you! I can’t quite believe how my life has changed over the past couple of years. Like most ‘overnight successes’ it’s been a long time getting to this point, and I still have to pinch myself. The Wicked Girls is the story of Kirstie and Amber, who, as children, became notorious for their involvement in the death of a smaller child, and have been living with the consequences of their actions during a single afternoon ever since. Twenty-five years on. Rehabilitated and released with new identities and a license that forbids them from ever having contact again, both are leading blameless lives among people who have no idea of their terrible history. But when a serial killer starts stalking the streets of the run-down seaside resort where Amber works as a fairground cleaner, Kirstie, now a journalist, is sent to cover the story, and the two are thrown together – both drawn to each other by their shared history and terrified that their meeting will cause the past to be revealed…

A number of things inspired me to write this book. It – the idea of how you’d live with yourself and rebuild your life after doing something terrible – had been bubbling under since I saw Heavenly Creatures back in the Nineties, but it took a long time for it to become clear what I wanted to do with it. We have had a number of notorious child murder cases in the UK – still have them, of course, but the law was changed after Thompson and Venables to provide anonymity for underage killers – and as a journalist I was often quite shocked by the difference between the court reports as they came over the wires and the accounts of the same trials as recounted in some papers. I think that, also, as this was my first foray into writing under a pseudonym, the idea of living in secret was, at least subconsciously, at the forefront of my mind.
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