My Bookish Ways

We Are Not Good People by Jeff Somers

wearenotgoodpeopleWe Are Not Good People by Jeff Somers (Gallery, Oct 7th, 2014)-Warning: I reviewed Trickster a while back, and this is the coverage of book 2 in the Ustari series, which is included in one volume here with Trickster, so there are inevitable spoilers for the first book. If you’re not caught up, feel free to catch my Trickster review. Otherwise, proceed at your own risk!

I was blown away by Trickster, the first in the Ustari series, and if anything, Jeff Somers upped the ante exponentially in Book 2 (or Part 2), which starts on page 258 if you’ve already read Trickster, but hey, I’m all for a seamless experience, so I definitely encourage you to read the whole thing all the way through. I’m going to try to give you the scoop without giving too much away about part one, so we’ll see how it goes. Anyway, the end of part one resulted in Mad Day (rioting, killing, suicide, rivers of blood, mass murder, all over the world-bad news), in spite of Lem Vonnegan’s best efforts to defeat Cal Amir and the even more terrible (if that’s possible) Mika Renar in their coordinated efforts to bleed the world dry and become immortal. Book 2 picks up about 6 months after Mad Day, which has turned into more than a day, in fact, the whole world has gone bonkers and cities have fallen, millions have died. Claire, who was the cornerstone of Amir and Renar’s evil plan has disappeared and Mika Renar is at large. Lem and Mags have been recruited by Melanie Billington, a minor mage, to prepare for war, and they have what Lem has dubbed the Asshole Army at their backs, starry eyed folks that look at Lem like he’s a savior and are ready to bleed at the drop of a hat, but he feels anything but.

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

Elissa Sussman’s debut fantasy, STRAY, just came out this month, and she kindly took a few moments out of her very busy schedule to answer a few of my questions. Please welcome her to the blog!

strayCongrats on the new book! Will you tell us a bit more about Stray and what inspired you to write it?
Thank you! Stray is an original fairy tale about fairy godmothers, feminism and food. I came up with bare bones of the story – a school for fairy godmothers – when I was in college and re-watching Disney’s Cinderella for a paper I was doing on the representation of women in animated films (I’m a huge animation nerd). It struck me how little we know about fairy godmothers within the scope of fairy tales and how strange it is that characters with such extraordinary powers seem to exist only to help others.

Why do you think readers will root for Aislynn, and what did you enjoy most about writing her character?
I love how much Aislynn changes throughout the book and how much she doesn’t. She’s faced with a lot of unexpected change and at times is very naïve and scared. I really wanted Stray to be a story about how confusing and complicated it is to question the life you’ve always known.

Stray is strongly influenced by fairy tales…what was one of your favorite fairy tales or stories when you were young?
One of my favorite fairy tales is East of the Sun, West of the Moon. The first half is a cross between Beauty and the Beast and the story of Cupid and Psyche, the second half is a good old fashioned quest, only it’s the young woman who has to go rescue the prince from the troll queen’s curse. It’s somewhat similar to Rosamund Hodge’s excellent Cruel Beauty, though with a different kind of quest and curse.

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

thewolfinwinterThe Wolf in Winter by John Connolly (Emily Bestler, Oct 28th, 2014)-Prosperous, Maine is an interesting little town. The name is a perfect fit, because for ages, they’ve been a town of prosper, and tolerance, and general well-being, and if their little church, the Congregation of Adam Before Eve & Eve Before Adam (brought brick by brick from Northumbria, in England), is a little odd, well, there are always odd little things in small towns, right? Outsiders are not very welcome, and home sales, who leave, who stays and just about everything else, are tightly monitored and decided by the town selectmen. Things are not looking good in Prosperous right now, though. A homeless man named Jude has died by apparent suicide and his daughter Annie, who has had problems of her own, has gone missing, and she’s thought to have gone to Prosperous. Before he died, Jude, with very modest resources, planned to hire Charlie Parker to look into his daughter’s disappearance, and word does indeed get back to Charlie.

It’s almost impossible for Charlie to ignore someone in need, and when he follows up on Jude’s “suicide”, something doesn’t look right, and he starts asking around. When he visits Prosperous, their police chief, Lucas Morland, seems to be forthcoming, and he even escorts Charlie to their “quaint” little church but all paths seem to lead to Prosperous, and Paster Warraner rubs Charlie the wrong way, as do the very creepy carvings in the upper corners of each wall; faces right out of some dark fairy tale. Charlie knows something is going on, but finding out what will be a chore, so he calls on some friends for help. Little does he know he’s been marked to die, and his enemies are legion. But as we know, Charlie’s got lots of friends, and a reputation that precedes him, but will it be enough, and will he find out what really happened to Jude and Annie?

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

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

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Interview: Christopher Buehlman, author of The Lesser Dead

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

When a chance encounter brings him face to face with a girl from his past, he decides that he must use his gift to save her from a violent husband and dismal future. His quest takes him to the glitz and greed of Hollywood, and into the crosshairs of shadowy forces bent on using and abusing his gift. Can Dale use his power to redeem himself and those he loves, or will the one thing that finally makes him special be his demise? The Heart Does Not Grow Back is a darkly comic, starkly original take on the superhero tale, introducing an exceptional new literary voice in Fred Venturini.
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November 2014 Must Reads in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction

Here are the  books that I’m especially looking forward to in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction for November (it’s a FANTASTIC month for mystery!) Enjoy!

blackkarmaBlack Karma by Thatcher Robinson (Seventh Street-Nov. 4th )

Synopsis -Bai Jiang—San Francisco’s best-known souxun (“people finder”)—is hired to track down the mysterious Daniel Chen. Police inspector Kelly suspects Chen of being involved in a botched drug heist that resulted in the death of an officer. Bai has her own suspicions. She thinks the police just want to see Chen dead.

Her investigation leads Bai into deadly intrigue as she finds herself caught between international intelligence agencies and merchants of war, who deal in death, drugs, and high-jacked information.

To make matters worse, she’s thirty-something and dating again. It’s not easy juggling a suitor with family connections, a brazen young man who finds her irresistible, and her ex–the father of her child.

World conflict and family strife explode as adversaries face off in San Francisco’s Chinatown, a world away from the one we know.
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Giveaway: Ask Anna: Advice for the Furry and Forlorn by Dean Koontz (benefits Canine Companions for Independence)

Love dogs? I’ve got a very special giveaway for you today, courtesy of Hachette: 1 copy of ASK ANNA: ADVICE FOR THE FURRY AND FORLORN to give away to one lucky US winner (I’ll pick a winner on the 21st). It’s a gorgeous coffee table book chock full of beautiful pictures and 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the book goes to Canine Companions for Independence. I love Dean Koontz, I love dogs, and CCI is a wonderful organization. It really doesn’t get much better than this.


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The Undying by Ethan Reid

theundyingThe Undying by Ethan Reid (Simon451, Oct. 7th, 2014)-The apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic genre is very, very crowded right now, and for good reason. It’s a fascinating setup for a story, but it can make finding good ones hard. I found a good one in The Undying, Ethan Reid’s debut novel, and one of the first books from S&S’s new SFF imprint Simon451. The Undying starts at the end, well, not really the end, but it takes place some time after the events of the book, but this didn’t bother me a bit, although it does give a big clue as to what may or may not become of some of the principal characters. The focus is on young Jeanie, whose mother bought her a trip to Paris in hope it might help her emerge from the grieving that she’s been mired in since her beloved father’s death. She brings along her friend Ben, who she adores, and happens to be in love with Jeanie. They meet up with Jeanie’s friend Zou Zou and her friend Farid as soon as they hit Paris, and the trip seems to be off to a roaring start, just in time for New Year’s Eve, no less…until the EMP hits.

Ben and Jeanie wake up to a city in chaos. Buildings are collapsing and people are panicking, but a scientist (whose wife is due to give birth in a local hospital) staying in the same hotel as Jeanie and Ben are able to give them a good idea of what might be happening, and they set out in hopes of meeting up with Zou Zou, and making some sense of the chaos. Jeanie also feels obligated to check on the scientist’s wife and baby. The scene on the street is not a good one, as you can imagine. There are fireballs. Fireballs. You might think this is bad enough, and it is, but Reid throws some more fun in the mix, in the form of a group of scumbags who seem to be after Jeanie and Ben for just being American, and then there are the pale, feral, used-to-be human creatures that are creeping around eating people (which Jeanie eventually comes to call the moribund.) Jeanie sees them first, and thinks she’s hallucinating, until they start making themselves known, and very visible.

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Catching up with Jeff Somers, author of We Are Not Good People

I was blown away by TRICKSTER (seriously, it’s amazing), the first book in the Ustari Cycle, and now the 2nd book is out, in an omnibus with the first, and it’s called WE ARE NOT GOOD PEOPLE. If you haven’t read this series yet, this is perfect, because you can book binge. I promise, you’ll want to. Anyway, please welcome Jeff back to the blog! He was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the new book (no spoilers), and more!

jeffsomersThe 2nd book in the Ustari Cycle just came out, in an omnibus edition with the first, called WE ARE NOT GOOD PEOPLE and it’s got a new cover look, as well. Will you tell us a little about it?
Will I! Try to stop me!

So, the elevator pitch is: Magic works in this universe, but it’s fueled by blood. The more blood, the more powerful the spell you can cast. The power is given shape by Words, a magical vocabulary and grammar. So if you have, say, a grown man to bleed out and a good grasp of the Words, you can do some pretty amazing things. While murdering someone (details, details).

As I said somewhere else recently, I’d likely use this power to cast a spell that would have music play whenever I walked into a room. Probably “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” by Tomoyasu Hotei.

My protagonist, Lem, sought out this power and began to learn how to use it, but is repulsed by the idea of killing people to fuel his spells. So he and his friend, the dimwitted but enormous Pitr Mags, only cast spells they can fuel with their own blood. This means they are a) always exhausted from blood loss and b) unable to cast more than simple gimmicky spells. They survive, basically, as magic-aided grifters, pulling short cons.

And of course, they stumble onto something they shouldn’t, and get caught up in the plot by an extremely powerful magician who is not just willing to bleed people to get what she wants – she’s willing to bleed the entire world. Hijinx, as they say, ensue. I won’t swear this book doesn’t contain at least one of the following: Killer clowns, chainsaw juggling, kitten in costumes speaking in adorable British accents, and the apocalypse.

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