My Bookish Ways

Giveaway: One of Us by Tawni O’Dell

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).

oneofusAbout 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.

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The Winter Long (October Daye #8) by Seanan McGuire

thewinterlongThe 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.

Excerpt: Radiant (The Towers Trilogy) by Karina Sumner-Smith

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.

Radiant Cover (2)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.

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Plague World (Ashley Parker #3) by Dana Fredsti

plagueworldPlague World by Dana Fredsti (Titan Books, August 26th, 2014)-(Warning: This assumes you’re caught up with the series. If not, there may be minor spoilers ahead for previous books.)

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.

A few SFF Kindle deals to kick off the weekend!

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!

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Catching up with Lucy A. Snyder, author of Soft Apocalypses

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!

lucyasnyderLucy, 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.

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Ben Peek chats with me about his new fantasy, The Godless

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!

benpeekCongratulations on THE GODLESS…tell us more! What inspired you to write this big, bold fantasy novel?
Thank you.

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.

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All of these Hugo Award winners are under $5 on Kindle!

The Hugo Award winners were announced on Sunday, so I thought it might be fun to gather some under $5 deals together. The first section are all winners, and I also gathered together some nominees (Best Novel only) that you can also get at a steal. A few are short stories, novellas, etc, that are priced accordingly. I think a couple of the nominees come in just a smidge over $5, but not too much. I went alll the way back to the 50s on these, so you’re sure to find some great classics as well as some new favorites. Enjoy!

Note: You can find Ted Chiang’s 2009 Hugo winning story “Exhalation” in Eclipse Two, which is only $.99.

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Giveaway: Spells at the Crossroads by Barbara Ashford

Spells at the Crossroads is an omnibus of two of my very favorite books, Spellcast and Spellcrossed, and if you haven’t discovered this series, now’s the perfect time! I’ve got one copy of Spells at the Crossroads to give away, courtesy of DAW (US only), and I’ll pick a winner on 8/29. Good luck!

Maggie Graham was having a very bad summer. First, she lost her job. Then the bathroom ceiling in her Brooklyn apartment collapsed. That was when Maggie decided it was time to run away from home for awhile. On the road to Vermont for her weeked away, she impulsively took the exit for a town called Dale. For some reason, the area felt familiar, especially the big white barn she passed on the way to town.

What came next was the biggest adventure in Maggie’s life. Her experience as an actor landed her a job in the summer stock company of the Crossroads Theatre, housed in that same white barn, but none of her professional credits could prepare her for the magic that happened on this stage. Or for the theatre’s unorthodox staff, especially its moody and mysterious director.

That staff and stage will soon become family to Maggie, but all the magic in the world might not be enough to keep them safe—with threats ranging from interfering board presidents to imprisonment in the realm of Faerie….

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Chimes at Midnight (October Daye #7) by Seanan McGuire

chimesatmidnightChimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire (DAW)-Seven books in, and the awesome keeps going with Chimes at Midnight. You’d think Toby would get some time to enjoy herself a little with Tybalt, but alas, duty calls, and this time it’s in the form of the Queen of the Mists, who seems to be supplying goblin fruit to changelings. This is a recipe for disaster, since goblin fruit is highly addictive and fatally destructive. When Toby confronts the Queen about it, the Queen does something, well, horrid to Toby (don’t want to give away too much here), but as a result, she finds herself in a race against time, or else. Luckily, there’s evidence that the Queen’s claim to the throne might not be totally on the up and up, but that means that Toby and the gang will have to find the rightful heir. Easier said than done. However, with a little help from the The Luidaeg, it just might be possible.

Seanan McGuire has an undeniable gift for story telling, and the Toby Day series remains a standout in the crowded UF bookshelf. This series hasn’t hit a false note yet, and it’s oh so easy to fall into each book and not come up for air until the last page. Every book in this series has been a little bite of awesome, but for me, Chimes brought things to a whole new level, in a few different ways. We learn a bit a lot about the previously msyterious Luidaeg (consistently one of my favorite characters), we get Toby and Tybalt awesomeness, and a diabolical foe in the form of the Queen of the Mists. I’m just about to finish up the next book, The Winter Long, and if you think the stakes in Chimes at Midnight were high, just wait!

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