My Bookish Ways

The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman

thelesserdeadThe 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.

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The Laws of Murder by Charles Finch: The Whodunnit Tour (guest post & giveaway)

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!


thelawsofmurderOn the one hand: Narnia, Hogwarts, Pemberley.
On the other hand: the Tower of London, Oxford, Castle Howard.

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.

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Giveaway: Ark Storm by Linda Davies

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!


arkstormAbout 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.

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Jon Bassoff, on things that go bump, and his new book, Factory Town

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!


jonbassoffI’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.
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We Are Not Good People by Jeff Somers

wearenotgoodpeopleWe 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.

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Elissa Sussman, author of Stray, on feminism, fairy godmothers, and food

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!


strayCongrats 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.

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The Wolf in Winter (Charlie Parker #12) by John Connolly

thewolfinwinterThe 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?

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Your weekly round up of ebooks under $5: SFF and Horror

You know the drill! All of these are under $5 and under, but who knows how long they’ll last, so get ‘em while they’re hot! Now, I have a Kindle, so I link to Kindle titles, but if you use another ebook platform, be sure to check those out, because quite often the discounts are universal. Enjoy!


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Interview: Christopher Buehlman, author of The Lesser Dead

As you may know, I read Christopher Buehlman’s Those Across the River and The Necromancer’s House one after another, and LOVED them, so I’m very excited to have him on the blog today to talk about his brand new vamp fest, The Lesser Dead-please give him a warm welcome!


chrisbuehlmanI got my copy of The Lesser Dead today, and can’t wait to dig in! Will you tell us a little about it and what inspired you to write it?
I had mixed feelings about telling a vampire story. As your readers well know, it’s a very popular mythos and has been for some time, so it’s almost impossible to start a narrative without stepping on familiar territory. On the other hand, vampires are some of my favorite supernatural antagonists, and the idea of unleashing them in the subways in New York in the late 1970’s struck me as being wonderfully evocative. Vampires in Manhattan are nothing new, however, so I knew I had to find a fresh voice, invoke setting in dramatic ways and come up with some new planks to add to the myth. Of course, it’s up to readers to decide if I succeeded.

Why are your vamps different? Will you tell us more about your particular mythology?
First of all, these critters wind the clock back a bit…they are not the pleather-wearing sexpots popular culture has exploded with. They’re nasty. They’re not particularly cool. They sleep on filthy old sleeping bags and in defunct refrigerators; they wash their clothes with bar soap and it’s clear those clothes have been bled through; if they don’t sleep in boxes or bind themselves, bugs crawl in them. They coat their tracks and tunnels in rat poison because they’re not affected by toxins. And I had some fun ideas about vampire lifespans–it turns out they’re not immortal. They just get maybe another decimal point or so.

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November 2014 Must Reads in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror

Here are the  books that I’m especially looking forward to in SFF for November! What are you looking forward to?


theheartdoesnotThe Heart Does Not Grow Back by Fred Venturini (Picador-Nov. 4th)

Synopsis-EVERY SUPERHERO NEEDS TO START SOMEWHERE…

Dale Sampson is used to being a nonperson at his small-town Midwestern high school, picking up the scraps of his charismatic lothario of a best friend, Mack. He comforts himself with the certainty that his stellar academic record and brains will bring him the adulation that has evaded him in high school. But when an unthinkable catastrophe tears away the one girl he ever had a chance with, his life takes a bizarre turn as he discovers an inexplicable power: He can regenerate his organs and limbs.

When a chance encounter brings him face to face with a girl from his past, he decides that he must use his gift to save her from a violent husband and dismal future. His quest takes him to the glitz and greed of Hollywood, and into the crosshairs of shadowy forces bent on using and abusing his gift. Can Dale use his power to redeem himself and those he loves, or will the one thing that finally makes him special be his demise? The Heart Does Not Grow Back is a darkly comic, starkly original take on the superhero tale, introducing an exceptional new literary voice in Fred Venturini.
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