My Bookish Ways

Guest Post: Angie Fox’s new Monster MASH series + Giveaway

Please welcome Angie Fox to the blog! She’s here to talk about her brand new Monster MASH series and there’s also a giveaway, so be sure to check out the details below the post!

Sit, Sit, SIT! Tips for Training Your HellHound

KILLEN, ALABAMA–When your hellhound is living up to every inch of its name, who you gonna call?

Now, Cesar Millan. The famed Dog Whisperer is taking on a whole new breed—and it’s a supernatural one. In his new book, “Ghost Doggie, Good Doggie”, Millan shows that he’s more than up to the challenge—even when the canines in question involve bad tempers, super strength, foul odors, and the sometimes-annoying ability to be able to talk back. Here’s a few of his pointers that might help you train your paranormal pooch.
• Stay calm. Your first instinct may be to freak when Fido starts giving you the (really) evil eye—but don’t react. Your dog will mirror your energy. If you’re frustrated, he will be, too!
• Pondering why your pooch is exhibiting problem behaviors like snorting fire on the drapes, or chewing through cement? A lack of exercise is probably to blame. “Dogs need physical and mental stimulation. Period. It doesn’t matter if they’re on this plane or not,” says Millan. A rousing game of fetch-the-skull or a long walk through a menacing mist might just do the trick.
• If your haunted hound has more than one head, make sure to give each one a tasty tidbit if you want to get all their attention (and keep jealousy to a minimum). “Don’t be stingy—this is a great opportunity to bond with all of them,” says Millan. For an inexpensive, yet unexpected treat, try dried devilswort or pickled frog livers. “They’re easy to keep hidden in your hand, and I haven’t met a black beast yet who could resist a bit of liver.”

So why am I on here, talking about hellhounds? It’s all part of the launch of Immortally Yours, the first book in the new Monster MASH series. The books take place in and around a paranormal MASH unit during a seemingly endless war.

The heroine and her colleagues at the MASH 3063rd have been drafted until the end of the conflict, which is bad for her but even worse for people like her vampire roommate, Marius. They’re living in this quirky, ad-hock camp, trying to make the best of it while they work long hours in the OR, putting soldiers back together – knowing that they’re probably going to see these injured heroes again and again – if they’re lucky.

I wanted to give readers a taste of the series. So I set up a special website for PNN (The Paranormal News Network), which is the news outlet covering the war. is the supernatural version of CNN, with a few exceptions. Sure, PNN can be a little sensationalistic, with articles like: “Mayan Insider Scoop! Developed Armageddon “Prophecy” After Tequila Bender” and “Five Things in Your Lair That Can Kill You.” But, hey, nobody’s perfect.

I figured PNN would be a fun way to give everyone a sneak peek at the kind of world I’ve created in my new series. To celebrate, I’m giving away a copy of Immortally Yours right now. Just check out and post the title of your favorite article in the comments below! (International/Ends 9/14) 

Snag a copy of Immortally Yours: Amazon | B&N

About Angie Fox:
Angie Fox is the New York Times bestselling author of books about demon slayers, werewolves and things that go bump in the night. She claims that researching her books can be just as much fun as writing them. In the name of fact-finding, Angie has ridden with Harley biker gangs, explored the tunnels underneath Hoover Dam and found an interesting recipe for Mamma Coalpot’s Southern Skunk Surprise (she’s still trying to get her courage up to try it).
Keep up with Angie: Website | Twitter

Interview (& Giveaway): Doyce Testerman, author of Hidden Things

It’s no secret that I absolutely adored Hidden Things, by Doyce Testerman, so when he agreed to answer a few of my questions, I was thrilled! Also, thanks to Harper Voyager, I’ve got 2 copies of Hidden Things up for grabs, so check out the giveaway details at the bottom of the post!

Please welcome Doyce to the blog!

Doyce, you’ve been a writer for over a decade now, and your first novel, the wonderful Hidden Things, just came out! What was your inspiration for Hidden Things?
Honestly? It was a dare.

Several of my writerly, readerly friends were sitting around discussing our favorite and not-so-favorite books, and one of them mentioned how disappointing it was that there was no weird, magical, fantasy stuff set in the Midwest.
Then she blamed me for this, and told me that my next story needed to rectify this terrible oversight.

I protested, but she dared me.

She dared me.

After that, it was all over.

I’d been toying with the idea of someone whose best friend dies and then calls to ask her for help, but nothing had really gelled up to the point. Once I put it in the context of this other challenge, it became a story about grief and reluctant homecomings. Hidden Things seemed like a good name for creatures that lurk just out of sight, as well as all those little secrets you tuck away and try to forget.

That was basically my outline. After that, I just started writing.

How long did Hidden Things take you to write from start to finish?
Thirty days.

Or… ten years.

I wrote the first draft, start to finish, in November of 2002. Revision followed, as it must, then another. Then finding an agent and working through the book with them. Then finding an editor and working through the book with them (twice)… and so on. Each of those editing passes were oases in a vast desert of Waiting Patiently For Replies. (I was, in retrospect, too patient, and have since learned the art of a good email nudge to keep things moving.)

(In the meantime, I wrote three other stories, and incorporated what I’d learned from those stories back into Hidden Things, so it wasn’t a total loss.)

Anyway: 30 days. Plus revisions.

What do you love most about writing fantasy?
I love what it lets us say about ourselves. A good story is about true things, even if it’s not about real things. Hidden Things is a good old road trip fantasy adventure, and you can read it that way and be done with it.
But it’s also about family, dealing with (or rejecting) change, losing those you love (via death or lots of other things that are almost worse), taking risks, and what you’re willing to give up of yourself to stay safe – at what point that crosses a line and you’re not you anymore. (Heck, at some annoyingly intellectual meta level, it’s even about Magical Realism in writing.)

I write fantasy – well, any genre, really – because I love the trappings; I love the wonder and whimsy of it. But at the same time I have to ground the story in real people with real lives, because otherwise wonder and whimsy is all it is, and ultimately that’s not enough.

(Then again, real people with real lives isn’t enough for me, either – without all the weird stuff, I’d get awfully bored.)

What are some of your biggest literary influences?
Tolkien led me over to the SF/F section of my library. Then he showed me how world building was properly done (as he has for so many authors).

Ray Bradbury (in Farenheit 451), helped me understand that I wanted to write, and why. (I wrote about that, once.)

Roger Zelazny’s spare writing style and his no-nonsense writer’s work ethic had a profound effect on me (and, I hope, continues to do so).

Stephen King is my personal gold-standard for characterization, realistic dialogue, and (of course) writing anything genuinely creepy.

Neil Gaiman showed me you could write about magic without explaining every damned thing. He has a marvelously light touch, and everything he writes is a joy to read aloud – that’s not empty praise, as I consider a book’s ability to be read aloud the final quality test.

There are more (so many more), but those are the big ones.

Hidden Things certainly has plenty of magical components to it, and for me, invoked childlike wonder many times! What were some of your favorite books or authors as a child?
Shel Silverstein wrote a few books that I found when I was first really getting into reading, and have kept close at hand ever since – I don’t think you outgrow those.

The same can be said for A.A. Milne, especially some of the unintentionally creepier poems in Now We Are Six.
(Bonus Trivia: There were snippets of both Silverstein and Milne poems in early drafts of Hidden Things, but they unfortunately had to be sacrificed to the gods of copyright.)

What would be your elevator pitch for Hidden Things?
Oh, I was so bad at the elevator pitch for this book. Now, though, I’ve had some time to think about it, and I would say:
Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, lost on a blacktop highway, with a Midwestern sunburn.

That’s a bit pat and easy, and certainly not what I set out to write, but I don’t think anyone who built their expectations from that pitch would be very disappointed.

If you could read one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
I get to cheat on this one and say The Hobbit, because I’m currently reading it with my seven-year-old daughter. It’s my (I think) eleventh time through, but if I let myself look at things through her eyes, it’s very like my first.
(This is, in my opinion, one of the many great rewards of having children.)

Hidden Things has a gorgeous cover! I couldn’t help but thinking you must have appeased the cover gods Have you ever bought a book just for the cover?
Thank you! Harper Collins actually asked for my input on the cover before they began work on it, and the designer managed something amazing in incorporating every one of my ideas while completely surpassing my wildest hopes.

I put a lot of stock in that, because I have absolutely picked up books based on a good cover design. The most recent was probably Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, all of which are gorgeously tactile.

What makes you want to toss aside a book in frustration?
I really can’t stand it when a protagonist is dropped into a strange situation (magic, horror, time travel, whatever) and refuses to accept it. It drives me mad. A bit of disbelief and denial is absolutely natural and sane, but the second (maybe third) time something genuinely weird happens, with witnesses, maybe it’s time to let go of your binky and deal with it. I’m supposed to identify with a character with their head buried in the sand? No thank you.

I imagine juggling writing and a family keeps you busy, but when you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
I am an unapologetic gaming nerd! Board games, pen and paper roleplaying games, computer games, you name it, and I’m probably trying (and often failing) to find time for it. Lucky for me, my wife is cut from similar (albeit finer) cloth (we actually met online, playing an MMO), and our kids are heading that way as well – my daughter got Catan Junior for her birthday, which is really a gift for all of us.

Obviously, there’s also a lot of reading going on. My wife and I are both reading A Song of Ice and Fire, trying to keep up with each other (she’s currently ahead a few chapters) so we can talk about without spoiling it for each other. Lucky for us we have a good backyard and good weather for reading. (Colorado is a wonderful place to live. In Denver, the weather is often great for a bike ride almost year-round, and we’re getting to the point where it’s easier and easier to do that as a family, now that my oldest daughter is off her training wheels and getting proper knee scrapes.)

I guess I stay busy:)

What’s next for you? Can we expect to see more of Calliope Jenkins?

Right now, I’m working on a pretty big story called Adrift, which is really two stories: one is hard science fiction set on a moon-sized junkyard/Tortuga of abandoned star ships, the other is a series of bedtime stories complete with talking animals and a magical forest; the narrative switches back and forth between the two, so it’s a bit like alternating between Blade Runner and Redwall.

But after that, I believe I’m headed back to the Hidden Lands. Something’s going on there, and I probably better figure out what before it gets out of hand.
Keep up with Doyce: Website | Twitter

1. You MUST fill out the form below (lots of chances for extra entries)
2. Giveaway is for 2 copies of Hidden Things by Doyce Testerman to 2 winners.
3. Giveaway is open to US  addresses only (no PO boxes).
4. Must include a valid email address with your entry (no need to leave it in the comments, just include it when you fill out the rafflecopter form)
5. You must enter on or before 9/11/12
6. Giveaway books courtesy of Harper Voyager
7. Please see my Giveaway Policy.

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Blades of Winter (Shadowstorm #1) by GT Almasi

Blades of Winter (Shadowstorm #1) by GT Almasi
DelRey/August 28th, 2012
Kind thanks to DelRey and NetGalley for providing a review copy

Nineteen-year-old Alix Nico, a self-described “million-dollar murder machine,” is a rising star in ExOps, a covert-action agency that aggressively shields the United States from its three great enemies: the Soviet Union, Greater Germany, and the Nationalist Republic of China. Rather than risk another all-out war, the four superpowers have poured their resources into creating superspies known as Levels.

Alix is one of the hottest young American Levels. That’s no surprise: Her dad was America’s top Level before he was captured and killed eight years ago. But when an impulsive decision explodes—literally—in her face, Alix uncovers a conspiracy that pushes her to her limits and could upset the global balance of power forever.

Alix Nico is only 19. This doesn’t keep her from an abundance of ass kicking, covert ops, black ops, and um, killing. Alix is an operative with ExOps, and her enhancements make her a pretty badass asset. It’s 1980, and Blades of Winter’s world is definitely a little to the left of ours, in terms of history. The Middle East and France are controlled by Germany and the Blades are determined to remove German control from their rightful territories. Shadowstorm has thus far been a pretty discreet battle between the Big Four (Germany, US, Russia, and China), but it’s about to come to a head.

Blades of Winter starts off with a bang, literally, when Alex takes a Job Number meant for a much higher, more experienced Level, and nearly gets killed in the process. She’s not what you call subtle, and successfully succeeds in angering the powers that be. She’s good, though, really good, and they need her. Turns out they’ve reopened the investigation into the disappearance and alleged termination of her father (Big Bertha), and it would take death to keep Alix away from this mission. So, armed with her trusty Lion Ballistics LB-505 (Li’l Bertha) that she inherited from her dad, Alix saddles up with her partner and lover, Patrick, and they head off to battle. And what a battle!! This mission is a globe hopping, blood soaked descent into hell, not only for Alix, but for her handlers. To say she’s a handful is a vast understatement. Capturing an enemy alive for questioning is terribly hard for Alix, since she tends to kill nearly every enemy she comes in contact with. Heavily augmented, she loves to use her bionic hand to actually reach into people and do damage. One memorable scene involves Alix, the enemy (his collarbones), a parachute, and the Eiffel Tower. That’s not the only memorable scene though. Alix is a tough-as-nails, borderline sociopathic, hot-headed, impulsive, somewhat emotionally immature killing machine.

She’s also a killing machine that terribly misses her father.

You must keep in mind that Alix began her covert ops training when she was only 12, and has never really been allowed to have any semblance of a normal childhood. The psychological aspects of this are staggering, and the author does a very good job of creating a portrait of a young woman whose emotional development has been effectively cut off at the knees. Corralling Alix sort of brings to mind trying to corral a room full of feral cats and while her impetuousness can be trying at times, there’s a hurting little girl inside of her that does come to the surface, especially when she’s with her mother, and these scenes did quite a bit to soften her character. She’s also desperately in love with her partner, Patrick, and poor guy, he has the patience of a saint when it comes to Alix, and he loves her too, no doubt about it. I’d say Alix could benefit from a hug (or 50), but I’d be afraid she’d rip my lungs out. Just sayin’.

The action is nonstop, adrenaline soaked, blood drenched and cinematic, and the fight scenes are some of the best I’ve ever read. Add to the mix a diabolical human cloning program code named Carbon, a possible mole (or moles) in ExOps, and of course, the investigation into what really happen to Alix’s father, and you’ve got an explosive first novel you won’t soon forget. Blades of Winter is complex and exciting, and the shocker of an ending will have you wishing that the sequel was at hand. I can’t wait for the next book in this series!

Interview: Kim Curran, author of Shift

I’m so excited to have brand new author Kim Curran on the blog today! Her new YA sci-fi SHIFT will be out Sept. 4th with Angry Robot Book’s brand new YA imprint Strange Chemistry. She was kind enough to answer a few of my questions, so please welcome her to the blog!

You have a degree in philosophy and a career in copywriting, mainly for videogames. What made you decide to take the plunge and write a book? Can you tell us a bit about your journey?
I always wanted to be a writer. In the same way I wanted to be a fighter pilot and a foreign correspondent and Joan of Arc. But I never thought any of it would actually happen (especially the Joan of Arc bit). So after finishing my Philosophy degree (which gave me an ability to think deep thoughts about being unemployed and little else) I got a job as an advertising copywriter. That was great for about 10 years. But then something rather tragic happened to a friend of mine and it reminded me very clearly that life is short and precious and you shouldn’t waste a second of it. So I decided then that what I really wanted to do, what I’d always wanted to do, was write a book. So I quit my job, went freelance, and started writing. A few years later and here I am.

Will you tell us a bit about Shift, and what you enjoyed most about writing it?
Shift is about a teen boy who realises he’s one of a group of kids with the power to undo any decision they’ve ever made. It’s a fast-paced, roller-coaster ride with quantum physics and stuff blowing up. The whole thing was such a joy to write, from the very first page – which I wrote in a cab on the way to work one morning – to the last – which I wrote in a hammock in Mexico – it all just flowed out of me. But my favourite bits to write were the scenes with Benjo, the baddy of the book. He’s just so deliciously disgusting that I had fun creeping myself out with him.

What are some of your biggest literary influences?
There are the obvious ones, like Anthony Horowitz and Charlie Higson and then the less obvious like Albert Camus and David Mitchell. But a lot of my influences also come from movies and comic books.

What was one of your favorite books as a child?
Expecting Someone Taller by Tom Holt. It’s Norse myths set in modern day and I’ve read it so many times the cover is falling off.

If you could read one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
Today, that would be Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne. It’s so fresh and raw and,well, heart-breaking. It teases out a secret all the way to the end, which keeps you reading and reading.

Is there anyone that would bring the fangirl out in you if you were to meet them?
Oh, loads of writers reduce me to a squeaking mess. But I’m worst around Patrick Ness. I was lucky enough to hear him speak about A Monster Calls. When I went to get the book signed afterwards I had planned on telling him what a huge fan I was and how much I adored his writing. All I could manage to say was; ‘My name is Kim. With an i’.

When you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
Hanging out with my friends mostly. I do a lot of lunches with friends which is one of the joys of not having a ‘normal’ job. I’ve also discovered how much I like going to the cinema on my own – no one to annoy me by asking silly questions. And, unsurprisingly, when I’m not writing I read. I find it hard to read when I’m in the middle of writing or editing, so I make up for it in my downtime.

What do you love the most about living in London?
Oh, so many things! Walking across Hungerford Bridge towards the South Bank where you can see all the famous landmarks: The Eye and The Houses of Parliament on one side and St Paul’s, The Shard and The Gerkin on the other. I never tire of that view. Then there are the wealth of museums and art galleries we have to explore for free. I keep discovering new ones. For example, I only just came across the Wellcome Collection after going to The British Library with some friends. It’s an amazing, bizarre exhibit, and highly recommended.

If you could pack your bags and travel anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
I often pack my bags and head off. Last year, my husband and I travelled around Central America for three months. But if I had to pick just one place, it would probably be Essaouira in Morocco. Although ask me again tomorrow and it will be somewhere else.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about upcoming projects or events (or anything at all!)?
I’ve just finished (bar the edits) the sequel to Shift, which is called Control and that will be out next year. I’m really excited about everyone reading it, as it has a rather exciting twist. Oh, and I’ve just decided to learn to fly. So maybe I can be a fighter pilot after all!
Keep up with Kim: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Read an excerpt of SHIFT

About SHIFT:
When your average, 16-year old loser, Scott Tyler, meets the beautiful and mysterious Aubrey Jones, he learns he’s not so average after all. He’s a ‘Shifter’. And that means he has the power to undo any decision he’s ever made. At first, he thinks the power to shift is pretty cool. But as his world starts to unravel around him he realises that each time he uses his power, it has consequences; terrible unforeseen consequences. Shifting is going to get him killed. In a world where everything can change with a thought, Scott has to decide where he stands.
Purchase SHIFT: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

September 2012 New Releases

Here are the new releases for September! However, this is by no means a comprehensive list (just ones that I especially have my eye on.) If you have any new releases that I didn’t include, and that you’d like to direct me to, please list them in the comments. Thanks!

September 4th, 2012:
Fantasy/Urban Fantasy/Paranormal/Sci-Fi:
The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron (Sept. 1st)
Undead by Kirsty McKay (Sept. 1st)
The Game by Krystyna Kuhn (Sept. 1st)
Kiss of Steel  by Bec McMaster (Aug. 2nd
The Asylum Interviews: Trixie by Jocelynn Drake
Dead Mann Running by Stefan Petrucha
Clean  by Alex Hughes | REVIEW
Map of the Sky by Felix J. Palma
In a Fix by Linda Grimes
Ashes of Honor  by Seanan McGuire
The Asylum Interviews: Trixie by Jocelynn Drake
This Case is Gonna Kill Me by Philippa Bornikova | REVIEW
Blackwood  by Gwenda Bond
Shift  by Kim Curran | REVIEW
The Book of the Night by Pearl North
Be My Enemy (Everness #2) by Ian McDonald
Fathomless  by Jackson Pierce
Supernatural Born Killers by Casey Daniels
Outpost by Ann Aguirre
An Apple for the Creature (anthology)  by Charlaine Harris etc.
The Kingmakers (Vampire Empire #3) by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith
The Rapture of the Nerds by Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross
The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams
Riveted  by Meljean Brook
Circus: Fantasy Under the Big Top (anthology)  by Peter Straub, etc (Sept. 5th)
The Edge of Waking by Holly Philips (Sept. 5th)
The City’s Son by Tom Pollack (Sept. 8th)
Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
To Catch a Vampire  by Jennifer Harlow

Slow Apocalypse by John Varley
Breed by Chase Novak | REVIEW
City of Thieves by Cyrus Moore 
Luther: The Calling by Neil Cross
Mulholland Dive by Michael Connelly
Mutated by Joe McKinney
The Vanishing Point by Val McDermid
The Ninth Step by Grant Jerkin
Rip Tide by Stella Rimington
Ghosts: Recent Hauntings (anthology) by Joe Lansdale, etc.
The Low Road by Chris Womersley
Detroit Breakdown by DE Johnson


September 11th, 2012:
Fantasy/Urban Fantasy/Paranormal/Sci-Fi:
Hanging by a Thread by Sophie Littlefield
The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
The White Forest by Adam McOmber
Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson
Island of Doom (Hunchback Assignments #4) by Arthur Slade

Flesh and Bone by Jonathan Maberry
A Wanted Man by Lee Child
Eight Ball Boogie by Declan Burke


September 18th, 2012:
Fantasy/Urban Fantasy/Paranormal/Sci-Fi:
Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff 
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan by Robin Maxwell
The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann
Adaptation by Melinda Lo
Incarnation by Emma Cornwall
Stray Souls by Kate Griffin
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Resurrection Express by Steven Romano
Safekeeping  by Karen Hesse
Bleed for Me by Michael Robotham
A Book of Horrors ed. by  Stephen King
Something Red  by Douglas Nicholas
School’s Out Forever by Scott K. Andrews


September 25th, 2012:
Fantasy/Urban Fantasy/Paranormal/Sci-Fi:
Alchemystic by Anton Strout
Dark Light of Day by Jill Archer
The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle
The Martian War by Kevin J. Anderson
The Knights of Breton Court by Maurice Broaddus
The Wrong Goodbye by Chris F. Holm
Immortal Surrender by Claire Ashgrove
The Turning by Francine Prose
A Star Shall Fall  by Marie Brennan
Personal Demon by Susan Sizemore
Earth to Hell by Kylie Chan
Blood Riders by Micheal P. Spradlin | REVIEW
Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
Dearly, Beloved  by Lia Habel
The Moonstone and Miss Jones by Jillian Stone
The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost
Boyfriend from Hell by Jamie Quaid
Crown Thief by David Tallerman
Ecko Rising  by Dani Ware (Sept. 27th)
Sacrifice the Wicked by Karina Cooper

Bad Glass by Richard E. Gropp
Redlaw: Red Eye  by James Lovegrove
Big Maria by Johnny Shaw
Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham | REVIEW
Your House is on Fire Your Children All Gone  by Stefan Kiesbye
The Infects  by Sean Beaudoin
The Mammoth Book of Zombie Apocalypse: Fightback!  ed. by Stephen Jones
The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling (Sept. 27th)

What new books are you jonesin’ for this month?

Guest Post (& Giveaway): Jane Kindred, author of The Midnight Court

Please welcome Jane Kindred to the blog today! Jane is the author of The Midnight Court, The Fallen Queen, and more! Jane is here to tell us a bit about her worldbuilding and she’s also offering 2 copies of The Midnight Court (one physical and one ecopy) to 2 lucky winners, so check out the giveaway details at the end of the post.

Over to Jane!

Monasteries, Murder Holes, and Mountain Cities

Thanks for having me today on My Bookish Ways—I’m excited to be here on the official release day for The Midnight Court! If you’ve read The Fallen Queen, you know there are some unusual settings in my books. This second book in my House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy gave me the opportunity to expand on the world of Heaven I’d touched on in Book One, as well as to explore more of modern Russia, where the first half of the book takes place.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to visit Russia again as research for this book, although I would have loved to. Instead, I explored Russia virtually via Google Earth and numerous websites on the Karelia area where many of the scenes take place. I needed something relatively close to the city of Arkhangel’sk, where my characters are living at the beginning of the book, where someone could be hidden away, and I wanted it to be something uniquely Russian. That was when I happened upon the monastery on the Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea.

As soon as I saw images of it, I knew this was the place. The Solovetsky Monastery is surrounded by a fifteenth-century fortress that protected it from attacks by numerous enemies over the centuries. It looks like a little kingdom of its own in the middle of a starkly beautiful archipelago. Its history, like Russia’s is tumultuous. The site of religious uprisings and a place of exile for anti-tsarists, the monastery was turned into one the most notorious labor camps of the gulag system after the Bolshevik Revolution.

With the fall of the Soviet Union, Solovetsky was returned to the Orthodox Church, and is now once again a working monastery with a small number of monks in residence, as well as a museum. I can only hope the monks of Solovetsky will forgive me for the license I took with it.

To parallel the earthly stronghold, I created a Heavenly one in the frozen north, and once I had a fortress to defend, I realized it couldn’t just sit there; I had to defend it. That was when I dove into research on the layout and functions of a fortress—fun things, like how to open a portcullis, and the purpose of a sally port (raiding parties would “sally forth” from a fortress under siege to attack the enemy), and murder holes. Because who doesn’t love saying “murder holes”? Then I had to figure out the strategy of a siege, and how medieval war engines were constructed, and how much grain your horses had to carry so that you didn’t end up eating them on a month-long trek over frozen tundra.

But my favorite part of Heaven that I got to create for this book was Aravoth City, high up in mountain country, where the angelic order of Virtues live. Oddly enough, their buildings and homes are based on ancient Roman architecture. Those Romans were pretty clever—central heating right in your home, plus an “impluvium” to catch rainwater. And of course, the Roman-style Aravothan public bath, which is to die for. I confess I patterned it pretty closely after Lynn Flewelling’s Aurënfaie baths, but in my own defense, I didn’t realize I had until I’d gone back to reread her Nightrunner series. She is clearly a woman after my own heart, and loves a good bath.

These are just a few of the places and things you’ll discover in The Midnight Court—along with the Midnight Court itself—as Anazakia, Belphagor, and Vasily take the next step of their journey.

As a special Release Day bonus, I’m giving away two copies of The Midnight Court today (or The Fallen Queen if you prefer)—one ebook and one paperback.

So tell me, what unusual place in the world would you most like to visit?

1. Answer Jane’s question above in the comments and specify ebook or physical copy (we’ll pick one of each!) Please don’t leave your email address in the body of the comment (as long as you fill it in on the WordPress form, you’re good to go-I may delete email addresses left in the comments)
2. Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY
3. Giveaway ends 9/8/12

About the author:
Jane Kindred began writing fantasy at age 12 in the wayback of a Plymouth Fury—which, as far as she recalls, never killed anyone…who didn’t have it coming. She spent her formative years ruining her eyes reading romance novels in the Tucson sun and watching Star Trek marathons in the dark. Although she was repeatedly urged to learn a marketable skill, she received a B.A. in Creative Writing anyway from the University of Arizona.

She now writes to the sound of San Francisco foghorns while two cats slowly but surely edge her off the side of the bed.

You can find Jane on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and on her website.

About The Fallen Queen, Book One of The House of Arkhangel’sk:
Heaven can go to hell.

Until her cousin slaughtered the supernal family, Anazakia’s father ruled the Heavens, governing noble Host and Fallen peasants alike. Now Anazakia is the last grand duchess of the House of Arkhangel’sk, and all she wants is to stay alive.

Hunted by Seraph assassins, Anazakia flees Heaven with two Fallen thieves—fire demon Vasily and air demon Belphagor, each with their own nefarious agenda—who hide her in the world of Man. The line between vice and virtue soon blurs, and when Belphagor is imprisoned, the unexpected passion of Vasily warms her through the Russian winter.

Heaven seems a distant dream, but when Anazakia learns the truth behind the celestial coup, she will have to return to fight for the throne—even if it means saving the man who murdered everyone she loved.

The Fallen Queen is available now at:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BAM | Books On Board | Diesel | IndieBound | Powell’s Books.

About The Midnight Court, Book Two of The House of Arkhangel’sk:
Against the pristine ice of Heaven, spilled blood and a demon’s fire will spark celestial war.

The exiled heir to the throne of Heaven, Grand Duchess Anazakia and her demon companions, Belphagor and Vasily, have made a comfortable home in the Russian city of Arkhangel’sk, but their domestic bliss is short lived. When their daughter Ola is taken as a pawn in Heaven’s demon revolution, the delicate fabric of their unorthodox family is torn apart—threatening to separate Belphagor and Vasily for good.

Anazakia is prepared to move Heaven and Earth to get her daughter back from Queen Aeval, risen in Elysium from the ashes of temporary defeat. But Aeval isn’t the only one seeking Ola’s strange power.

To conquer the forces amassing against them, Anazakia is prophesied to spill the blood of one close to her heart, while Vasily’s fire will prove more potent than anyone suspected. In the battle for supremacy over Heaven’s empire, loyalties will be tested and secrets will be revealed, but love will reign supernal.

The Midnight Court is available now in ebook and paperback from:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books On Board | Powell’s Books

Book News: August 30th, 2012

I haven’t done a news post in a while, so I thought I’d gather up some interesting stuff from the web and share it here. Have any interesting book related news? Feel free to share it in the comments!














Giveaway: In a Fix by Linda Grimes

In a Fix, the new fantasy by Linda Grimes is on my Top 25 Most Anticipated New Releases of September list, and I just happen to have an extra copy to give away to one lucky winner! Check out the book and the giveaway details, and good luck!

About In a Fix:
Snagging a marriage proposal for her client while on an all-expenses-paid vacation should be a simple job for Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire. A kind of human chameleon, she’s able to take on her clients’ appearances and slip seamlessly into their lives, solving any sticky problems they don’t want to deal with themselves. No fuss, no muss. Big paycheck. This particular assignment is pretty enjoyable…that is, until Ciel’s island resort bungalow is blown to smithereens and her client’s about-to-be-fiance is snatched by modern-day Vikings.

For some reason, Ciel begins to suspect that getting the ring is going to be a tad more difficult than originally anticipated. Going from romance to rescue requires some serious gear-shifting, as well as a little backup. Her best friend, Billy, and Mark, the CIA agent she’s been crushing on for years – both skilled adaptors – step in to help, but their priority is, annoyingly, keeping her safe. Before long, Ciel is dedicating more energy to escaping their watchful eyes than she is to saving her client’s intended. Suddenly, facing down a horde of Vikings feels like the least of her problems.

1. You MUST fill out the form below (lots of chances for extra entries)
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy of In a Fix by Linda Grimes to 1 winner.
3. Giveaway is open to US addresses only.
4. Must include a valid email address with your entry (no need to leave it in the comments, just include it when you fill out the rafflecopter form)
5. You must enter on or before 9/7/12
6. Giveaway book courtesy of Tor
7. Please see my Giveaway Policy.

read more

Top 25 Anticipated New Releases in September 2012!

You may be asking yourself, how did I just pick 25? It was super, super hard, but I buckled down and did it (a few are missing, since I’ve already reviewed them.) September is a great month for new releases, and these are just the tip of the iceberg!

What are YOU looking forward to in September??

Something Red by Douglas Nicholas
During the thirteenth century in northwest England, in one of the coldest winters in living memory, a formidable yet charming Irish healer, Molly, and the troupe she leads are driving their three wagons, hoping to cross the Pennine Mountains before the heavy snows set in. Molly, her lover Jack, granddaughter Nemain, and young apprentice Hob become aware that they are being stalked by something terrible. The refuge they seek in a monastery, then an inn, and finally a Norman castle proves to be an illusion. As danger continues to rise, it becomes clear that the creature must be faced and defeated—or else they will all surely die. It is then that Hob discovers how much more there is to his adopted family than he had realized.

An intoxicating blend of fantasy and mythology, Something Red presents an enchanting world full of mysterious and fascinating characters— shapeshifters, sorceresses, warrior monks, and knights—where no one is safe from the terrible being that lurks in the darkness. In this extraordinary, fantastical world, nothing is as it seems, and the journey for survival is as magical as it is perilous.

Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster
When Nowhere is Safe

Most people avoid the dreaded Whitecapel district. For Honoria Todd, it’s the last safe haven. But at what price?

Blade is known as the master of the rookeries—no one dares cross him. It’s been said he faced down the Echelon’s army single–handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood–craving he’s been quicker, stronger, and almost immortal.

When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She’s so…innocent. He doesn’t see her backbone of steel—or that she could be the very salvation he’s been seeking.

Clean by Alex Hughes


I used to work for the Telepath’s Guild before they kicked me out for a drug habit that wasn’t entirely my fault. Now I work for the cops, helping Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino put killers behind bars.

My ability to get inside the twisted minds of suspects makes me the best interrogator in the department. But the normals keep me on a short leash. When the Tech Wars ripped the world apart, the Guild stepped up to save it. But they had to get scary to do it—real scary.

Now the cops don’t trust the telepaths, the Guild doesn’t trust me, a serial killer is stalking the city—and I’m aching for a fix. But I need to solve this case. Fast. I’ve just had a vision of the future: I’m the next to die.

Shift by Kim Curran
When your average, 16-year old loser, Scott Tyler, meets the beautiful and mysterious Aubrey Jones, he learns he’s not so average after all. He’s a ‘Shifter’. And that means he has the power to undo any decision he’s ever made. At first, he thinks the power to shift is pretty cool. But as his world starts to unravel around him he realises that each time he uses his power, it has consequences; terrible unforeseen consequences. Shifting is going to get him killed. In a world where everything can change with a thought, Scott has to decide where he stands.

Blackwood by Gwenda Bond
On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back.

Miranda, a misfit girl from the island’s most infamous family, and Phillips, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can’t dodge is each other.

The Wrong Goodbye by Chris F. Holm
Meet Sam Thornton, Collector of Souls.

Because of his efforts to avert the Apocalypse, Sam Thornton has been given a second chance – provided he can stick to the straight and narrow.

Which sounds all well and good, but when the soul Sam’s sent to collect goes missing, Sam finds himself off the straight-and-narrow pretty quick.

Safekeeping by Karen Hesse
Radley’s parents had warned her that all hell would break loose if the American People’s Party took power. And now, with the president assassinated and the government cracking down on citizens, the news is filled with images of vigilante groups, frenzied looting, and police raids. It seems as if all hell has broken loose.

Coming back from volunteering abroad, Radley just wants to get home to Vermont, and the comfort and safety of her parents. Travel restrictions and delays are worse than ever, and by the time Radley’s plane lands in New Hampshire, she’s been traveling for over twenty-four hours. Exhausted, she heads outside to find her parents—who always come, day or night, no matter when or where she lands—aren’t there.

Her cell phone is dead, her credit cards are worthless, and she doesn’t have the proper travel papers to cross state lines. Out of money and options, Radley starts walking. . . .

Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire
It’s been almost a year since October “Toby” Daye averted a war, gave up a county, and suffered personal losses that have left her wishing for a good day’s sleep. She’s tried to focus on her responsibilities—training Quentin, upholding her position as Sylvester’s knight, and paying the bills—but she can’t help feeling like her world is crumbling around her, and her increasingly reckless behavior is beginning to worry even her staunchest supporters.

To make matters worse, Toby’s just been asked to find another missing child…only this time it’s the changeling daughter of her fellow knight, Etienne, who didn’t even know he was a father until the girl went missing. Her name is Chelsea. She’s a teleporter, like her father. She’s also the kind of changeling the old stories warn about, the ones with all the strength and none of the control. She’s opening doors that were never meant to be opened, releasing dangers that were sealed away centuries before—and there’s a good chance she could destroy Faerie if she isn’t stopped.

Now Toby must find Chelsea before time runs out, racing against an unknown deadline and through unknown worlds as she and her allies try to avert disaster. But danger is also stirring in the Court of Cats, and Tybalt may need Toby’s help with the biggest challenge he’s ever faced.

Toby thought the last year was bad. She has no idea.

In a Fix by Linda Grimes
Snagging a marriage proposal for her client while on an all-expenses-paid vacation should be a simple job for Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire. A kind of human chameleon, she’s able to take on her clients’ appearances and slip seamlessly into their lives, solving any sticky problems they don’t want to deal with themselves. No fuss, no muss. Big paycheck. This particular assignment is pretty enjoyable…that is, until Ciel’s island resort bungalow is blown to smithereens and her client’s about-to-be-fiance is snatched by modern-day Vikings. For some reason, Ciel begins to suspect that getting the ring is going to be a tad more difficult than originally anticipated. Going from romance to rescue requires some serious gear-shifting, as well as a little backup. Her best friend, Billy, and Mark, the CIA agent she’s been crushing on for years – both skilled adaptors – step in to help, but their priority is, annoyingly, keeping her safe. Before long, Ciel is dedicating more energy to escaping their watchful eyes than she is to saving her client’s intended. Suddenly, facing down a horde of Vikings feels like the least of her problems.

Bad Glass by Richard E. Gropp
Something has happened in Spokane. The military has evacuated the city and locked it down. Even so, disturbing rumors and images seep out, finding their way onto the Internet, spreading curiosity, skepticism, and panic. For what they show is—or should be—impossible: strange creatures that cannot exist, sudden disappearances that violate the laws of physics, human bodies fused with inanimate objects, trapped yet still half alive. . . .

Dean Walker, an aspiring photographer, sneaks into the quarantined city in search of fame. What he finds will change him in unimaginable ways. Hooking up with a group of outcasts led by a beautiful young woman named Taylor, Dean embarks on a journey into the heart of a mystery whose philosophical implications are as terrifying as its physical manifestations. Even as he falls in love with Taylor—a woman as damaged and seductive as the city itself—his already tenuous hold on reality starts to come loose. Or perhaps it is Spokane’s grip on the world that is coming undone.

Now, caught up in a web of interlacing secrets and betrayals, Dean, Taylor, and their friends must make their way through this ever-shifting maze of a city, a city that is actively hunting them down, herding them toward a shocking destiny.

The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle
Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the real world. But the real world comes to her in this dystopian tale with a philosophical bent. Rumors of massive unrest on the “Outside” abound. Something murderous is out there. Amish elders make a rule: No one goes outside, and no outsiders come in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man, she can’t leave him to die. She smuggles him into her family’s barn—at what cost to her community? The suspense of this vividly told, truly horrific thriller will keep the pages turning.

Sacrifice the Wicked by Karina Cooper
Parker Adams has always done what’s expected of her . . . until a double agent with nothing to lose ignites a passion she doesn’t dare give in to.

Mission Agent Simon Wells is everything Parker Adams has been trained to fight: manipulator, murderer, spy . . . witch. But for her, what makes Simon most dangerous is his mesmerizing sexual magnetism, powerful enough to tempt even the famed ice queen of the Mission. Though she knows better, each encounter with the deceptive agent leaves her craving more.

Simon isn’t a man to let go of what’s his, and his pursuit forces Parker, a woman he can’t get out from under his skin, to make a stand that could destroy her. If they can work together, they might survive the politics that has enslaved their devastated world—or fall victim to the pitfalls of desperation, bone-deep mistrust, and a hunger that threatens to consume them.

Blood Riders by Michael P. Spradlin
The Western Territories, 1880. For four years, Civil War veteran and former U.S. Cavalry Captain Jonas P. Hollister has been rotting in a prison cell at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. His crime: lying about the loss of eleven soldiers under his command . . . who he claims were slaughtered by a band of nonhuman, blood-drinking demons.

But now a famous visitor, the detective Allan Pinkerton, has arrived with an order for Hollister’s release. The brutal murder of a group of Colorado miners in a fashion frighteningly similar to the deaths of Hollister’s men has leant new credence to his wild tale. And suddenly Jonas Hollister finds himself on a quest both dangerous and dark—joining forces with Pinkerton, the gunsmith Oliver Winchester, an ex-fellow prisoner, a woman of mystery, and a foreigner named Abraham Van Helsing, who knows many things about the monsters of the night—and riding hell for leather toward an epic confrontation . . . with the undead.

School’s Out Forever by Scott K. Andrews
“After the world died we all sort of drifted back to school. After all, where else was there for us to go?”

Lee Keegan’s fifteen. If most of the population of the world hadn’t just died choking on their own blood, he might be worrying about acne, body odour and girls. As it is, he and the young Matron of his boarding school, Jane Crowther, have to try and protect their charges from cannibalistic gangs, religious fanatics, a bullying prefect experimenting with crucifixion and even the surviving might of the US Army.

Welcome to St. Mark’s School for Boys and Girls…

Incarnation by Emma Cornwall
In the steampunk world of Victorian London, a beautiful vampire seeks out the author of Dracula–to set the record straight . . .

If one is to believe Bram Stoker’s legendary vampire tale, Lucy Weston is Dracula’s most wanton creation, a sexual creature of the night who preys on innocent boys. But the real-life Lucy is nothing like her fictional counterpart—and she demands to know why the Victorian author deliberately lied. With Stoker’s reluctant help, she’s determined to track down the very fiend who transformed her—from the sensual underworld where humans vie to become vampires, to a hidden cell beneath a temple to madness, and finally into the glittering Crystal Palace where death reigns supreme.

Haunted by fragmentary memories of her lost life and love, Lucy must battle her thirst for blood as she struggles to stop a catastrophic war that will doom vampires and humans alike. Ultimately, she must make a choice that illuminates for her—and for us—what it means to be human.

Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson
It’s not easy being a girl. It’s even harder when you’re the only girl in a family of werewolves. But it’s next to impossible when your very existence spells out the doom of your race… Meet Jessica McClain — she just became part of the pack.

In the vein of Kelley Armstrong and Patricia Briggs, a new urban fantasy that rewrites the werewolf myth…

The White Forest by Adam McOmber
In this hauntingly original debut novel about a young woman whose peculiar abilities help her infiltrate a mysterious secret society, Adam McOmber uses fantastical twists and dark turns to create a fast-paced, unforgettable story.

Young Jane Silverlake lives with her father in a crumbling family estate on the edge of Hampstead Heath. Jane has a secret—an unexplainable gift that allows her to see the souls of man-made objects—and this talent isolates her from the outside world. Her greatest joy is wandering the wild heath with her neighbors, Madeline and Nathan. But as the friends come of age, their idyll is shattered by the feelings both girls develop for Nathan, and by Nathan’s interest in a cult led by Ariston Day, a charismatic mystic popular with London’s elite. Day encourages his followers to explore dream manipulation with the goal of discovering a strange hidden world, a place he calls the Empyrean.

A year later, Nathan has vanished, and the famed Inspector Vidocq arrives in London to untangle the events that led up to Nathan’s disappearance. As a sinister truth emerges, Jane realizes she must discover the origins of her talent, and use it to find Nathan herself, before it’s too late.

Flesh and Bone by Jonathan Maberry
Reeling from the devastation of Dust & Decay, Benny Imura and his friends plunge deep into the zombie-infested wastelands of the great Rot & Ruin. Benny, Nix, Lilah, and Chong journey through a fierce wilderness that was once America, searching for the jet they saw in the skies months ago. If that jet exists then humanity itself must have survived…somewhere. Finding it is their best hope for having a future and a life worth living.

But the Ruin is far more dangerous than any of them can imagine. Fierce animals hunt them. They come face to face with a death cult. And then there’s the zombies—swarms of them coming from the east, devouring everything in their paths. And these zoms are different. Faster, smarter, and infinitely more dangerous. Has the zombie plague mutated, or is there something far more sinister behind this new invasion of the living dead?

The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams
Bobby Dollar is an angel—a real one. He knows a lot about sin, and not just in his professional capacity as an advocate for souls caught between Heaven and Hell. Bobby’s wrestling with a few deadly sins of his own—pride, anger, even lust.

But his problems aren’t all his fault. Bobby can’t entirely trust his heavenly superiors, and he’s not too sure about any of his fellow earthbound angels either, especially the new kid that Heaven has dropped into their midst, a trainee angel who asks too many questions. And he sure as hell doesn’t trust the achingly gorgeous Countess of Cold Hands, a mysterious she-demon who seems to be the only one willing to tell him the truth.

When the souls of the recently departed start disappearing, catching both Heaven and Hell by surprise, things get bad very quickly for Bobby D. End-of-the-world bad. Beast of Revelations bad. Caught between the angry forces of Hell, the dangerous strategies of his own side, and a monstrous undead avenger that wants to rip his head off and suck out his soul, Bobby’s going to need all the friends he can get—in Heaven, on Earth, or anywhere else he can find them.

You’ve never met an angel like Bobby Dollar. And you’ve never read anything like The Dirty Streets of Heaven.

Brace yourself—the afterlife is weirder than you ever believed.

The Kingmakers (Vampire Empire #3) by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith
Concludes the popular, genre-crossing, epic trilogy of a war between vampires and humans
A war to the death.

Empress Adele has launched a grand crusade against the vampire clans of the north. Prince Gareth, the vampire lord of Scotland, serves the Equatorian cause, fighting in the bloody trenches of France in his guise as the dashing Greyfriar. But the human armies are pinned down, battered by harsh weather and merciless attacks from vampire packs.

To even the odds, Adele unleashes the power of her geomancy, a fear- some weapon capable of slaughtering vampires in vast numbers. However, the power she expends threatens her own life even as she questions the morality of such a weapon.

As the war turns ever bloodier and Adele is threatened by betrayal, Gareth faces a terrible choice. Their only hope is a desperate strike against the lord of the vampire clans—Gareth’s brother, Cesare. It is a gamble that could win the war or signal the final days of the Greyfriar.

The Vampire Empire trilogy rushes to a heart-wrenching conclusion of honor and love, hatred and vengeance, sacrifice and loss.

Be My Enemy (Everness #2) by Ian McDonald
Everett Singh has escaped with the Infundibulum from the clutches of Charlotte Villiers and the Order, but at a terrible price. His father is missing, banished to one of the billions of parallel universes of the Panoply of All Worlds, and Everett and the crew of the airship Everness have taken a wild Heisenberg jump to a random parallel plane. Everett is smart and resourceful, and from the refuge of a desolate frozen Earth far beyond the Plenitude, where he and his friends have gone into hiding, he makes plans to rescue his family. But the villainous Charlotte Villiers is one step ahead of him. The action traverses three different parallel Earths: one is a frozen wasteland; one is just like ours, except that the alien Thryn Sentiency has occupied the Moon since 1964, sharing its technology with humankind; and one is the embargoed home of dead London, where the remnants of humanity battle a terrifying nanotechnology run wild. Across these parallel planes of existence, Everett faces terrible choices of morality and power. But he has the love and support of Sen, Captain Anastasia Sixsmyth, and the rest of the crew of Everness as he learns that the deadliest enemy isn’t the Order or the world-devouring nanotech Nahn—it’s himself.

Dead Mann Running by Stefan Petrucha
Just because a bullet has your name on it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t duck…

Either I’m stubborn, or it’s rigor mortis, but being dead didn’t stop me from being a detective or finding my wife’s killer. But it’s tough out there for a zombie, and lately it’s been getting tougher. These days the life-challenged have to register and take monthly tests to prove our emotional stability. See, if my kind gets too low, we go feral. I’ve been feeling a little down lately myself…

So when a severed arm—yeah, just the arm—leaves a mysterious briefcase at my office, my assistant, Misty, thinks figuring out where it came from will keep me on track. But this case goes deeper and darker than I imagined, and my imagination gets pretty dark. Turns out the people after it know more about my past life than I can remember, and even more about what I’ve become.

Slow Apocalypse by John Varley
Despite wars with Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as 9/11, the United States’ dependence on foreign oil has kept the nation tied to the Middle East. A scientist has developed a cure for America’s addiction—a slow-acting virus that feeds on petroleum, turning it solid. But he didn’t consider that his contagion of an Iraqi oil field could spread to infect the fuel supply of the entire world…

In Los Angeles, screenwriter Dave Marshall heard this scenario from a retired US marine and government insider who acted as a consultant on Dave’s last film. It sounded as implausible as many of his scripts, but the reality is much more frightening than anything he could have envisioned.

An ordinary guy armed with extraordinary information, Dave hopes his survivor’s instinct will kick in so he can protect his wife and daughter from the coming apocalypse that will alter the future of Earth—and humanity…

Undead by Kirsty McKay
Out of sight, out of their minds: It’s a school-trip splatter fest and completely not cool when the other kids in her class go all braindead on new girl Bobby.

The day of the ski trip, when the bus comes to a stop at a roadside restaurant, everyone gets off and heads in for lunch. Everyone, that is, except Bobby, the new girl, who stays behind with rebel-without-a-clue Smitty.

Then hours pass. Snow piles up. Sun goes down. Bobby and Smitty start to flirt. Start to stress. Till finally they see the other kids stumbling back.

But they’ve changed. And not in a good way. Straight up, they’re zombies. So the wheels on the bus better go round and round freakin’ fast, because that’s the only thing keeping Bobby and Smitty from becoming their classmates’ next meal. It’s kill or be killed in these hunger games, heads are gonna roll, and homework is most definitely gonna be late.

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.


The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger – a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.


Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

Interview: GT Almasi, author of Blades of Winter

Please welcome GT Almasi to the blog! He’s the author of the brand new cyberthriller Blades of Winter and was kind enough to answer a few of my questions!

You have a background in graphic design, and copywriting. What made you finally decide to take the plunge and write a novel?
I’d had a few ideas kicking around in my head for years, and I was at a place in my life where I was ready for a new challenge. But the most immediate catalyst that got me started was reading Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash one right after the other. I’d always figured writing a novel would be tedious and unpleasant because you’d have to use, you know, good grammar and all that nonsense. But the romping prose of these two books showed me that writing a novel could be a fun as reading one.

Your new novel, Blades of Winter, is cyberthriller at its best! What do you like most about writing in this genre?
I love how I get to mash-up all sorts of things; advanced electronics & old-fashioned bullets, carbon fiber & rusted metal, skinny geeks & beefy thugs, futuristic capabilities & ancient anxieties.

I just got a new smartphone, and the first thing I did was put a full-resolution copy of Blade Runner on there, just to see how it looked. It looked fantastic, but I couldn’t make myself turn it off and I wound up watching the whole thing and loving that juxtaposition of past and future. Something that strikes me as another example of this kind of mash-up is the Millennium Falcon, with its souped-up, hot-rod, hyper-space engines all banged into place with an old hydro-spanner.

What would be your elevator pitch for Blades of Winter?
“It’s a fast-paced, espionage cyber-thriller set in an alternate history where the Germans win World War Two.”

Alix Nico, your heroine, is quite young (19). Why did you decide to make her so young and was it tough writing from a female point of view?
Alix’s youth was inspired by watching the athletes at the Olympics, especially the gymnasts and figure skaters. Those kids are amazing, and I thought that if kids can do those acrobatics there isn’t much they can’t do.
Writing Alix isn’t like writing a “normal” female character because Alix is so enmeshed in the masculine world of being a covert-action agent. Another question might be, “was it tough writing from a sociopathic point of view?”

Where I tried to retain more of Alix’s femininity are the scenes she has with her mother. While nothing in the books actually happened to me or my family, these scenes are informed from when my sister and I were teen-agers and I was watching her and my mother learn the lessons a lot of girls and moms have to learn together.

A further source could be the brief but close friendship I once had with someone I was working with. She and I spent a lot of time talking together because we had a big thing in common; we both dated women and they were driving us nuts. What was most interesting to me was that her perspective was exactly the same as mine. It gave me the idea that the gender gap may have been purposefully manufactured to distract all of us away from things that actually matter. Maybe Mars and Venus are a lot closer to each other than we’ve been sold.

Did your career in graphic design help you visually in writing action scenes for Blades of Winter?
I’ve been drawing and painting since I was a kid, and that translated into my graphic design work. I’ve got a really visual sense of things, and pretty good recall. One of my college friends still remembers the first time she saw me successfully paint a sky from memory. Perhaps a corollary here is that I remember a lot of the action scenes, fight scenes, and martial arts scenes I’ve watched in movies or played through in video games.

But mostly I think what makes my action scenes fit together is that I act them out when I write them. I move around the room and brandish pretend weapons at pretend adversaries. Then I do it again from the other side. For driving sequences I call upon my vivid memories of driving like Bo and Luke Duke with my high school friends. I pretend to act these out too, which is why my characters get thrown around inside a wildly swerving car because that really used to happen to me. This play-acting may help me capture the details of what’s happening to the characters. Plus it’s totally fun.

What kind of research did you do for the book?
I did a ton of research for this book. I came to writing with a decent foundation in history, but everything else — science, espionage, all the locations, in-depth details about historical events — saw me starting at square one. Half my time on this book was spent doing research of one kind or another.

I know that some of your favorite authors include Robert Ludlum, Neal Stephenson, and Hunter S. Thompson. Which one of their books (or another’s) would you like to read again for the first time?
Cool question! The two books I mentioned for sure, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Snow Crash. I’d love to re-live that sensation of being blown away by something I’d never seen before. Like when I first listened to Nirvana’s Nevermind, or the first time I saw Star Wars.

If you could read one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
-Snow Crash

If someone were just dipping their toes in the sci-fi / thriller genre, where would you personally recommend that they start?
The Matrix, Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, and Virtual Light by William Gibson, in that order. Then Blade Runner, Frederick Pohl’s Gateway and Beyond the Blue Event Horizon, and then Neuromancer by Gibson.

What’s one of your favorite lines from a book or movie?
I absolutely love quoting movies and books, so I can’t stop at just one:
One of all-time faves is, “As your attorney, I advise you to drive at top speed,” from Fear and Loathing. My friends I still say this to each other, especially when we’re running late for something.
I once got to say “Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges,” in a context where it really made sense! It was one of my movie-geek highpoints.

When my wife or I aren’t very impressed with something we do our Colin Firth-Mr. Darcy impression and say, “It’s tolerable, I suppose. But not handsome enough to tempt me.”

So, so many more, but I’ll stop here.

Favorite movies?
Casablanca, La Femme Nikita, The Professional, Blade Runner, Moonstruck, Godfather, Apocalypse Now, My Favorite Year, Racing w The Moon, Matrix, Bourne Identity, Daniel Craig’s Bond movies, Blazing Saddles, Aeon Flux, Stalingrad, Cabaret, Singin’ In The Rain, and many more. I love movies :-)

If you could pick anyone alive or dead to have coffee or drinks with, and pick their brains, who would it be?
It’d be Jesus. So much stuff has sprung up around his life and teachings that I’d love to get the straight dope from him and find out what really happened. I must admit part of me hopes he’d say that Christopher Moore’s book Lamb is completely true.

When you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
During the day I like to go out to breakfast with my wife, get together with friends, or take our dog for a walk in the woods. At night we go see one of friends’ many bands, or I catch up on my reading while my wife noodles around on the Xbox (or vice versa).

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about upcoming projects or events (or anything at all!)?
The second book, Hammer of Angels, will be out in Spring of 2013, and I’ll be at NYC Comic-Con on October 13th and 14th (the Saturday and Sunday). The author-wranglers at Random House will set up my schedule for me, so I have no idea what I’ll be doing besides trying to get my picture with Mad Moxxie and Predator.
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About Blades of Winter:
Nineteen-year-old Alix Nico, a self-described “million-dollar murder machine,” is a rising star in ExOps, a covert-action agency that aggressively shields the United States from its three great enemies: the Soviet Union, Greater Germany, and the Nationalist Republic of China. Rather than risk another all-out war, the four superpowers have poured their resources into creating superspies known as Levels.

Alix is one of the hottest young American Levels. That’s no surprise: Her dad was America’s top Level before he was captured and killed eight years ago. But when an impulsive decision explodes—literally—in her face, Alix uncovers a conspiracy that pushes her to her limits and could upset the global balance of power forever.

About the author:
G. T. Almasi graduated from RISD and moved to Boston to pursue a career as a graphic designer. While he built his design portfolio, he joined a band as the bass player, and wrote and designed the band’s newsletter. Once his career as an art director took off, he continued to supplement his design talents by writing copy for his clients.

As a novelist, his literary influences include Robert Ludlum, Neal Stephenson, and Hunter S. Thompson. He also draws inspiration from John Woo’s movies and Todd Howard’s videogames. Almasi lives in Plymouth, Massachusetts, with his wife, Natalie, and their lovably stubborn dog, Ella.

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