The Maze Runner movie, based on the best selling book by James Dashner, is coming to theaters on September 19th, and courtesy of 20th Century Fox, we’ve got a great prize pack to give away to one lucky winner (US only), just fill out the widget at the bottom of the post, and good luck (I’ll pick a winner on Sept. 6th)!
The Prize Pack includes:
Have you read Annihilation and Authority and now you’re ready for some answers? Jeff VanderMeer delivers the answers you want, and much more, in Acceptance, the final book in the Southern Reach Trilogy. This is a hard one to review, because it’s kind of the “big reveal” book, although it’s really not VanderMeer’s style to smack you in the face with shocking revelations. Shocking things do happen, to be sure, but events unfold like one of the deadly flowers you might find in Area X, and you’ll find, while reading, that all the clues were there, in this, and the first two books, and the author wisely trusts his readers to follow the cleverly scattered breadcrumbs.
In Acceptance, we join up with Control and Ghost Bird as they head back into Area X, in search of a team member that Ghost Bird is intimately connected to. The lighthouse keeper, Saul Evans, is a huge part of the story, and his is a poignant and important one, as one of the first to experience the otherworldly encroachment of Area X. The psychologist/Director gets her own story, and it humanizes a figure that seemed a little to the left of human in Annihilation. If you’ll remember, she was manipulating her team, and eventually, as everything fell apart around her, she found herself succumbing to Area X. Perhaps, among the most important things for me, was the mystery of what happened to the biologist, and she has her say as well.
Keep in mind, the border of Area X has shifted drastically, and it seems to be continuing its advance, but what does that mean for mankind? This trilogy is very much about transformation, of the literal and figurative kind, and the author does a phenomenal job in filling out each character’s background, and their motivations. The alternating narrative carries an undeniable sense of creeping dread, a prelude to a quiet apocalypse, but no less terrifying for its subtlety. We learn about who these people were, before Area X took over their existence, and it’s their very human need for answers, at almost any cost, that leads them to their ultimate destination, and sometimes, to their utter doom, although some are caught up in Area X through no fault of their own.
The wild and terrifying beauty that is Area X, and VanderMeer’s ability to create such a rich, immersive, fully realized place, is one of the things that makes these books what they are, and indeed, Area X is a living, breathing character all its own. Area X is the soft rustle of the leaves, a night sky full of alien stars, and the ripples on an ocean as a leviathan breaches the surface, so similar, yet so different from our own natural world. Disturbing, strange, and beautiful in equal measure, Acceptance, like Annihilation and Authority, will transport you, and it brings the trilogy full circle. Books like this don’t come around very often, and this is a series not to be missed.
Please welcome Susan Klaus to the blog! Her new book, FLIGHT OF THE GOLDEN HARPY, just came out in June, and she kindly stopped by to answer a few questions about it!
Will you tell us more about Flight of the Golden Harpy and what inspired you to write it?
Flight of the Golden Harpy takes place on a futuristic jungle planet that hosts a winged species called harpies. The human colonists believe harpies are dangerous feral animals, rumored to steal and molest women. Despite their slender humanoid frames, harpies are hunted like wild game and their mounted wings are considered prized trophies.
The story begins with Kari, a ten-year-old girl fighting for her life when an eel-like creature snatches her off a lake bank. A teenage golden harpy flies in and saves her. Ten years later and now a young woman, Kari returns from Earth schools to her home planet, hoping her handsome savior, the rare blond, yellow-winged male, has outwitted the hunters over the years and is still alive. Kari dismisses the rumors that harpies are treacherous monsters and is determined to help them. But all the while, she questions her commitment to the harpies and why she is enchanted and drawn to the golden male. Kari, in part, is a main character, but the true protagonist is Shail, the golden harpy monarch who faces a life-and-death battle to save his flock from mankind.
Award-winning author, Barbara D’Amato probably best describes my novel in her blurb, “Flight of the Golden Harpy is a saga of racial hostility between human and the near-human harpies, of environmental destruction versus preservation, and daughter-father misunderstandings. But most of all, it’s a story of star-crossed lovers, a human woman and her beloved harpy.”
Do you love suspense? Courtesy of the lovely folks at Gallery Books, I’ve got a copy of ONE OF US, the new book by Tawni O’Dell, up for grabs, and I want you to win it! Check out the details and good luck! I’ll pick a winner on Sept. 5th (US only).
About ONE OF US:
Dr. Sheridan Doyle—a fastidiously groomed and TV-friendly forensic psychologist—is the go-to shrink for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office whenever a twisted killer’s mind eludes other experts. But beneath his Armani pinstripes, he’s still Danny Doyle, the awkward, terrified, bullied boy from a blue-collar mining family, plagued by panic attacks and haunted by the tragic death of his little sister and mental unraveling of his mother years ago.
Returning to a hometown grappling with its own ghosts, Danny finds a dead body at the infamous Lost Creek gallows where a band of rebellious Irish miners was once executed. Strangely, the body is connected to the wealthy family responsible for the miners’ deaths. Teaming up with veteran detective Rafe, a father-like figure from his youth, Danny—in pursuit of a killer—comes dangerously close to startling truths about his family, his past, and himself.
In this masterfully told psychological thriller in the vein of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, the past and present collide to put Lost Creek’s long-lived ghosts to bed.
The Winter Long by Seanan McGuire (DAW-Sept. 2nd, 2014)-The Winter Long is so chock full of revelations, and more than a few answered questions, that revealing any of them, would pretty thoroughly spoil the book for you. So, I’ll keep it short and sweet, and deliberately, and probably annoyingly, vague. Sorry about that… I mean, seriously, when you see back cover copy like this:
Toby thought she understood her own past; she thought she knew the score.
She was wrong.
It’s time to learn the truth.
It’s kind of a giveaway that even a vague description of events in the book would be ruinous. I’m gonna give it a try. Toby and Tybalt are enjoying couple time. In fact, they’re enjoying it so much that any expectation of peace can’t possibly be realistic, right? We all know that Toby attracts trouble like white on rice so it’s no surprise when she’s visited by Simon Torquill. Remember him? He’s Sylvester’s twin brother and the charming fellow that turned Toby into a fish (among other things.) He’s desperately trying to tell Toby something, but he’s under a geas, so a big reveal isn’t in the cards. So, Toby and crew go to the best place she knows of to get answers: The Luidaeg. Things don’t quite go as Toby hopes, but she does manage to get a wee bit more info out of The Luidaeg before things go all to hell.
I almost feel like I’m under a geas writing this review, but anyway, another blast from Toby’s past rears, um, its ugly head, and of course, it’s time for Toby to save the day. Like I said, revelations carry the narrative in The Winter Long, and during this journey, Toby will learn some blinding truths about her past, that will have great repercussions on her future, if she lets them. I probably should have just written Betrayals! Revelations! Answers!, and left it at that, so needless to say, McGuire wraps up a ton of plot strings in this one, but as always, a pretty bow tying things up is nowhere to be seen. Seanan McGuire mentions in her acknowledgements that this is the book that all others led up to, that everything she’s done until now was for the sake of getting here. Indeed. What she manages to do is make it very clear how intricate Toby’s story is, and the richness of Toby’s world is a thing of genius. And don’t worry, while The Winter Long clears up a TON of stuff, it’s made clear that Toby’s story is far from over. This is a good thing. The Winter Long is a testament to McGuire’s ability to take so many threads and pull them together into a harrowing, and believable tapestry, and it’s all Toby’s own. While there’s plenty of action, this is one of the most introspective books in the bunch, and of course, another great book in the Toby-verse.
Read on for an excerpt of RADIANT (Book 1 of the Tower Trilogy) by Karina Sumner-Smith, out September 23rd!
Curled in a concrete alcove that had once been a doorway, Xhea watched the City man make his awkward way through the market tents, dragging a ghost behind him. Magic sparkled above his head like an upturned tulip, deflecting the heavy rain and letting it pour to the ground to trace a circle in the puddles at his feet. He was, of course, watching her.
It was not his attention that had caught Xhea’s notice, nor his poor attempt to blend into the crowd, but the ghost tethered to him with a line of energy more felt than seen. The dead girl couldn’t have been much older than Xhea herself—sixteen, Xhea supposed, perhaps seventeen—and she floated an arm’s span above the man’s head like a girl-shaped helium balloon.
For fifteen minutes the man had circled, pretending to shop. As if a City man had any use for reclaimed nails, half rusted and pounded straight; for prayer flags, or charms of electrical wire and bone. What was it, Xhea wondered, that made the ghost-afflicted wait for the darkest, rainiest days to seek her out? She snorted softly, a sound without care or pity. They didn’t want to be seen with her, that was the truth of it, as if her very presence left a shadow that wouldn’t burn away.
As she waited, Xhea tied a coin to the end of a braid of her hair with a bit of tattered ribbon. The coin was an old and dirty thing she’d found in the abandoned shopping corridors that wound beneath the Lower City. Once it would have bought her bread, cigarettes, a warm place to sleep. Now it was nothing but a bit of shiny metal that watched with the pressed eyes of a dead Queen, its only magic a sense of the past that hung about it like the faint scent of something sweet.
She had started braiding another length of dark hair before the man made the decision to approach. He walked toward her with his head down, as if a slumped posture might make him any less conspicuous, as if half the market didn’t watch him go. He came to stand before her narrow shelter and stared without speaking, the heavy rain falling between them like a beaded curtain.
Xhea eyed him in silence: his polished shoes, dotted with water; the neat line of his jacket; the monogrammed cuffs that peeked from his jacket sleeves. Only the clean cut of his tailored pants was marred, and that by the slow curl of his fists within the pockets. He straightened, pulling himself upright as if to get every intimidating inch from his average-sized frame.
For two books now (Plague Town and Plague Nation), Ashley Parker has been dealing with, and battling, the plague, and the zombies they spawned, like a champ, and Plague Nation was especially harrowing for Ashley and the gang. There was a helicopter crash, an ambush, and perhaps the worst part for Ashley, Gabriel was captured at gunpoint. He and Ashley were just starting to explore their new relationship, and the possibility of a way to control his condition. Needless to say, Ashley is desperate to get him back. To make things even worse, Dr. Albert was taken by the same people, and the possibility of a vaccine for Walker’s Flu lies with him. The current incarnation of the vaccine can actually cause people to become the walking dead, but it’s a starting point for a cure, and now that the virus has become airborne, it’s more important than ever before that they recover Dr. Albert. Luckily, Ashley is a Wild Card (she’s immune to the zombie virus and after she contracted it and fought it, she came out of it with some pretty awesome “heightened” abilities), and most of her team are Wild Cards as well. Now, they must make their way to San Diego to hopefully rescue Dr. Albert, for them to have any hope for a cure to a disease that has now spread throughout the world.
Ashley is back in all her snarky glory, but in Plague World, although she hasn’t lost her considerable sense of humor, she’s a more subdued, introspective Ashley than she was in previous books. She misses Gabriel, she worries that Lil will just get worse without medication, so finding appropriate meds is a priority, and the new guy, Griff, seems determined to get his hands on Ashley, whether she consents or not, and she doesn’t trust him. He’s got some kind of angle, and she’s certain it’s more than just getting in her pants. So, the team is off to San Diego to find out who is at the bottom of unleashing Walker’s Flu and perverting the DZN’s (Dolofonoitou Zontanous Nekrous, or “killers of the dead”) existence for their own nefarious means.
Plague World is the 3rd and last in Dana Fredsti’s smashing zombie series, and although it’s a bit bittersweet, she brings things to a satisfying conclusion and the journey to get there is horrific, sometimes funny, and always awesome. Most of the story is told by Ashley, but in Plague World, there are interludes that take place in different parts of the world where the plague is just taking hold, and it serves to heighten the terror of an already awful situation. Fredsti has a lot of fun with her use of San Diego’s Balboa Park, which is a former naval based turned national park, and as always, her fight scenes are fantastic. Give Ashley a sword, and she’ll cut a swath through the undead that’s a mile long, and as gruesomely gleeful as some of the fight scenes are, the body count is taking its toll on Ashley and the rest of the group, especially after the considerable losses they’ve suffered.
This book is darker than the previous two, and it doesn’t get much darker than in the final pages, when Ashley comes face to face with a person from her past. I don’t want to give anything away, but suffice it to say that Ashley is taken to a very, very dark place, and the experience would cause many to lose their minds. Yeah, it’s that bad. Dana Fredsti is a fantastic storyteller-you’ll blaze through this in one or two sittings, because the action rarely lets up, and it’s just good. If you’re a zombie fan, or just a fan of spectacular horror, this should be a go-to series, and I envy anyone that gets to read this series back to back. Plague World was worth the wait, though, and I’ll follow Dana Fredsti anywhere. I’m very much looking forward to what she’s got in the works next.
All under $5, and all awesome! Be sure to double check the price before you click that BUY button, though (just in case.) Also, note that DEAD WITCH WALKING, the first book in Kim Harrison’s Hollows series is FREE, so if you haven’t discovered this fantastic urban fantasy series, now’s the perfect chance!
Lucy A. Snyder is one of my favorite authors and not only does she have a new writer’s guide out, SHOOTING YOURSELF IN THE HEAD FOR FUN AND PROFIT, but she’s also just released a brand new story colletion, SOFT APOCALYPSES, and she’s kindly stopped by to talk about the new books, and more! Please welcome her back to the blog!
Lucy, you’ve got two new, and very different, books out, SHOOTING YOURSELF IN THE HEAD FOR FUN AND PROFIT (a writer’s guide) and a story collection, SOFT APOCALYPSES. Personally, what are a few of your favorite stories in SOFT APOCALYPSES?
The book contains my story “Magdala Amygdala”, which won the Bram Stoker Award. I think that it’s one of my best short stories. But my personal favorites were the ones that were a whole lot of fun to write.
There’s “Repent, Jessie Shimmer!” which, as you might guess from the title, features the heroine from my urban fantasy trilogy. In this story, Jessie and her familiar Pal go back down south to lend Miz Devereaux a hand, and in the process Jessie gets into a whole passel of trouble. It’s a fast-paced adventure tale, and Jessie fans and zombie fans should enjoy it.
And speaking of zombies, there’s “Tiger Girls vs. the Zombies,” which was originally supposed to appear in the anthology Redneck Zombies From Outer Space, but that book has been delayed, and so it’s actually debuting in Soft Apocalypses. It’s completely gonzo, and it takes place in the universe of my book Installing Linux on a Dead Badger, so if you liked that brand of geeky zombie humor, that story should be just your thing.
There are also a couple of stories that were both fun to write and were the first times I’ve written in particular genres. “Diamante and Strass” is a post-apocalyptic rock-and-roll science fiction Western. And “The Leviathan of Trincomalee” is my first steampunk tale. Steampunk has been criticized for not having enough “punk” in it, so the young protagonist in “Leviathan” is both rather rebellious and embodies the do-it-yourself ethos.
Please welcome Ben Peek back to the blog! He kindly stopped by to talk about his brand new fantasy, THE GODLESS, which just came out this week!
Congratulations on THE GODLESS…tell us more! What inspired you to write this big, bold fantasy novel?
As for the inspiration, I began it after I had just gone through a particularly bad stretch of my career. In the space of a year, I had gone through two agents, lost a deal, and some other stuff, all of which left me with the question of if it was time to give up writing or not. It’s not an amazing story – a lot of authors go through it, sadly, and some hang it up, and some don’t. During the time I spent deciding if I was done, I went back to the books that had gotten me into writing, the things I read while I was a teenager, growing up. A lot of these were fantasy books from the eighties and nineties – Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, David Gemmell, Lynn Abbey, Raymond Feist, David and Leigh Eddings, Terry Brooks, R.A. Salvatore and the various TSR books he wrote, and so on and so forth. I can’t say that all of them were good books, but as I looked through all those old paperbacks I had, all these memories came back, and my mind started to turn over the ideas for a fantasy novel. I did not, at first, think I should write it – I mean, a fantasy series is probably not the wisest way to slowly ease back into your career, but the ideas just kept hanging around. I remember being up in Darwin for a friend’s wedding and drifting around in a car daydreaming about immortals fighting. And I had this idea for a world in which the gods lay dead on the ground, and I could see a giant wall that ran the length of one in the mountains, and armies marching to it, and after a while, I thought that since it wasn’t letting go, I’d do it. I’d write this fantasy book and see where I was at the end of it.
I don’t know that I planned to sell it, or that I thought it would sell, but I basically sat down and wrote out of the love I had for those old books and memories, and the end product was THE GODLESS.