My Bookish Ways

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!

Interview: Edan Lepucki on California, love after the apocalypse, and more

Edan Lepucki is a genuine phenomenon, and for good reason: first and foremost, with CALIFORNIA, she’s given us a very assured, excellent debut (trust me, it’s really good), and there was that awesome Stephen Colbert mention… She’s kind of a rockstar, and I’m thrilled that she took the time to answer a few of my questions! Please give her a warm welcome!

Edan-Lepucki-Author-PhotoEdan, congrats on the new book, CALIFORNIA, and also the amazing success you’ve seen with it right out of the gate! Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a bit more about yourself and your background?
Thank you so much, and thanks for your thoughtful review of California a few weeks back! I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember—since I learned to read, I suppose. Aside from my dancing skills (seriously, I challenge you to a dance-off!), I can only read and write. I have no other skills. In college, I enthusiastically double-majored in English and Creative Writing, and after I graduated, I worked at a bookstore in LA called Book Soup, and wrote short stories on my time off. I studied creative writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and after I graduated I started a novel. That one never sold, alas, so I wrote another one—California—to more successful results.

I was born at home in Santa Monica and raised in LA; I come from a large family of irrepressible showboats: divorced parents, step-parents, three sisters, and a brother—all of whom live in California. Aside from writing and teaching writing, I have also worked as a bookseller, a cheesemonger, and an SAT tutor (verbal only, obviously). I am the founder and co-director of Writing Workshops Los Angeles, a private writing school that offers small and rigorous classes from the comfort of the teacher’s home. I am married to a book-lover and whiskey-drinker named Patrick, and we have a delightful three-year-old son named Dixon Bean, as well as tiny white dog named Omar Little. Last year we moved from LA to the San Francisco Bay Area, to a town called Albany. It’s a bit sleepy for my taste, but it’s growing on me, and my god, the bread and coffee here is terrific.

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Catching up with Dana Fredsti, author of Plague World

It’s no secret that Dana Fredsti’s Ashley Parker series is one of my favorite zombie series out there (Plague World is awesome-trust me), and as always, I’m thrilled to have Dana back to the blog to talk about the newest installment, what comes next, and more!

Deadite-DanaDana, I’m very excited about Plague World! Will you give us a bit of a teaser as to what we can expect from Ashley and the gang?
Bad things happen. Plague World is definitely a darker book than the first two (although some pretty dark stuff does happen in both Plague Town and Plague Nation), with characters forced to make decisions that will ultimately change their lives … if they live to see the end of the book. (insert Bwahahahahah! Here). You can expect the same humor that runs through the previous books because that’s Ashley’s way of dealing with the world, but I put her through the wringer this time around. I also admit to having had way too much fun zombie-fying the International Houses and other parts of Balboa Park in San Diego. Readers will also get to see how the zombocalypse is affecting the rest of the world via the third person interludes and yes, I had a lot of fun writing those as well. There’s something cathartic about destroying the world a little bit at a time, y’know?

Er… did that sound too much like a super villain? No? Good .

Was it bittersweet for you to wrap up the Ashley Parker trilogy?
Definitely. Plague World was a very difficult book to write for a number of reasons, not the least being that my personal and professional life went through some major changes and upheavals last year. I think it’s fair to say that some of my personal pain is reflected in the emotional and physical pain Ashley goes through in this book. I also realized certain plot points could not be wrapped up with a happy pink bow around them. Nope, I had to break out the black ribbon and say a final farewell to characters I didn’t necessarily plan on parting with at the end of the trilogy.

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The 2014 Hugo Award winners have been announced!

The 2014 Hugo Award winners were announced yesterday at LonCon3! Particularly exciting to me is the win for the SF Signal podcast :-D Congrats to all of the winners!


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This week’s Kindle deal round-up (SFF and Suspense): all under $5

I’m rounding up everything in one post this week, so you should have plenty to choose from to kick-start your weekend! All titles are under $5, and as always, be sure to double check before you click that BUY button! Happy Friday!

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The first 7 books of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series are all under $5 on Kindle!

Books 1-7 of Diana Gabaldon’s superb OUTLANDER series are under $5 on Kindle, so get ‘em while they’re hot! It’s one of my favorite series, and it’s perfect weekend reading (to go along with the new series on STARZ no less)!

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Interview: Nick Cole, author of Soda Pop Soldier

SODA POP SOLDIER by Nick Cole just came out this week, and Nick stopped by to chat about it, and more! Please give him a warm welcome!

nickcoleCongrats on the new book, Nick! Will you tell us a little about Soda Pop Soldier and what inspired you to write it?
I wanted to write Soda Pop Soldier after I finished the last book of The Wasteland Saga. That was Post-Apocalyptic fiction and it was gritty, grim and dark. I was ready to write something that was fun. Pure Scifi. I play a lot of video games and I knew I wanted to explore that world from a fiction perspective. Soda Pop Soldier is a lot like Ready Player One in certain ways and in other ways it’s like a Raymond Chandler noir mystery novel. I describe it to people as Call of Duty meets Ready Player One.

Have you always wanted to write? Will you tell us more about yourself and your background?
I would say yes, I have always wanted to write from about the time we start thinking about what the shape of our lives will be like. I remember reading the Lord of the Rings in the 5th grade and thinking I wanted to be a writer. I would go home after school and make maps of imaginary places. To me, at that time, that was writing. After that it was a long process of learning how to write. I started writing professionally while I was in the Army. I’d turn in little short stories to magazines and get rejected. One got through, though. After the Army I took some time off and studied acting. Then I began to write and write a lot. It took me about seven years to finish my first novel no one has read, Fight the Rooster. It’s still unpublished. After that I wrote The Old Man and the Wasteland and that did pretty well.

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Interview: Patrick Swenson, author of The Ultra Thin Man

Please welcome Patrick Swenson to the blog! His new book, THE ULTRA THIN MAN, just came out this week and he kindly answered a few of my questions about it, why he writes, and much more!

PSwenson2horizontal-2Congrats on the release of The Ultra Thin Man! Will you tell us more about it and what inspired you to write it?
Thank you! It all started as a way for my brother and me to keep in touch when he moved to California. I give him full credit for the title, and he started the ball rolling with the first installment. We didn’t even know what we were going to write. But we passed around a few chapters over a number of years. About an eighth of the book has my brother’s input. Eventually I took on the challenge of writing the bulk of it.

You’ve been a teacher for many years, but has it always been your goal to write a novel? What’s one of the first things you can remember writing?
Oh yes, I’ve wanted to be a writer most of my life. (I didn’t decide on wanting to be a teacher until high school.) I remember at age nine sitting at my desk downstairs writing a science fiction story called “Mr Mooney Goes to the Moon.” Mooney is my mom’s maiden name, and I based the character a little bit on my Grandpa Mooney. There were two sequels: “Mr. Mooney Goes to Mars,” and “Mr. Mooney Goes to North Dakota.” (We lived in Eastern Montana, right on the border of North Dakota. I guess I thought North Dakota was an alien place.)

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

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

cityofstairsCity of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett (Broadway-September 9th)

Synopsis-The city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions—until its divine protectors were killed. Now Bulikov has become just another colonial outpost of the world’s new geopolitical power, but the surreal landscape of the city itself—first shaped, now shattered, by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it—stands as a constant, haunting reminder of its former supremacy.

Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani. Officially, the unassuming young woman is just another junior diplomat sent by Bulikov’s oppressors. Unofficially, she is one of her country’s most accomplished spies, dispatched to catch a murderer. But as Shara pursues the killer, she starts to suspect that the beings who ruled this terrible place may not be as dead as they seem—and that Bulikov’s cruel reign may not yet be over.

Here’s why this is one of my favorite books of 2014.
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