My Bookish Ways

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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Fierce Reads Tour Interview Recap and Giveaway with Marissa Meyer, Jessica Brody, Nikki Kelly, and Gennifer Albin!

Macmillan’s Fierce Reads Tour is in full swing, and on the 8th, I was lucky enough to interview the touring quartet before their event at the Irving Public Library. The interview was done in a conference room and I recorded it, but a transcriptionist I am not, so I’ll paraphrase the answers. Please note there was much giggling and hijinks during the interview. And no, alcohol wasn’t the cause, these ladies are just fun, and sweet, and were very candid. It was a lot of fun, and I’m so glad I was asked to cover the event.

**Also, I’ve got all 4 books featured in the event to give away, courtesy of the nice folks at Macmillan, so be sure to check out the details at the bottom of the post.

Marissa Meyer is the author of the Lunar Chronicles (Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress-with Fairest coming up in January). Gennifer Albin is promoting the newest book in her Crewel World series, Unraveled. Unforgotten is the newest book in Jessica Brody’s Unremembered Trilogy, and Nikki Kelly is promoting her first novel (ever!), Lailah, the first book in the Styclar Saga.

Gennifer Albin and Marissa Meyer were hard at work signing books when I arrived along with Jessica Brody, Nikki Kelly, and Macmillan Children’s Publishing’s awesome Directory of Publicity, Allison Verost, and after everyone grabbed some goodies (okay, mainly me and Nikki), we got down to business.

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Trey Dowell, author of The Protectors, on heroes, why he tells stories, and more

I’m thrilled to have another Simon451 debut author on the blog today! Please give a warm welcome to Trey Dowell, author of The Protectors!

Also, be sure to check out the Simon451 NYCC schedule!

treydowellWill you tell us more about THE PROTECTORS and why you wrote it?
The Protectors tells the story of three unique people—the only meta-humans in existence—and how they struggle against not only the foreign enemies who want to destroy them, but also their own government—that might just want the same damn thing. While they face tough odds and dangerous situations at every turn, their biggest struggle is more intimate: can they trust each other and put their baggage-ridden past behind them in order to stay alive?

I wrote The Protectors because I loved the idea of taking a globe-trotting thriller, with real-life situations and political intrigue and giving it a sci-fi/fantasy twist. Two of my favorite genres, mixed together with humor, snappy dialogue, and just a bit of romance. Once I pieced together the first few chapters, the writing really flew because the story just worked. I love fast paced, have-to-turn-the-page storytelling, and that’s what I was going for with this novel.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us more about yourself?
I’ve always wanted to be a storyteller, for sure. From a very early age, I had a robust talent for what I like to call “basic verbal fiction.” Unfortunately, the rest of the world tends to call it “lying,” which meant my talent was, um, somewhat underappreciated. As I grew older, it became apparent that writing was a much more socially acceptable form of storytelling, and I embraced it. Plus, a career in sales (15 years worth) can be so stressful and unfulfilling that writing makes for a sanity-saving escape. Now I just want my writing to serve as the same thing for other people: an escape.

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Broken Soul (Jane Yellowrock #8) by Faith Hunter

BrokenSoulLoRezCover (2)Broken Soul by Faith Hunter (Roc, Oct. 7,2014)-No spoilers for this one, but may be inevitable spoilers for previous books.

Oh Jane. We’re on book 8 and you haven’t let me down yet. It’s time for another shindig (sort of) and Leo, Master of New Orleans has of course asked Jane to handle the security. This time it’s a delegation of Eurovamps that want to test Leo’s weaknesses and hope to eventually take over his territory. But, Leo’s got it covered, right? He’s actually put a few of his own safeguards in place (including using some of Jane’s past actions to scare them), but he still needs Jane to make everything go smoothly, but this time, Jane insists on an huge paycheck, which he fails to blink at. She’s not sure whether to be flattered or worried. Either way, she’s got a lot of work today and heads home to start, only to promptly get attacked in her SUV by something that to her, looks like a creature of light.

So, Jane’s got a lot on her plate, and if you add to that the attentions of a suitor we all know and love (FINALLY-the flowers, ohhh, the flowers), it could be overwhelming. But it’s Jane, and she’s nothing if not pragmatic. Oh wait, did I also mention that in addition to the European vamps getting tithes from the New York City Master in return for leaving his lands alone, and coming after Leo, they’ve also decided that Jane has something they want, and it’s a very powerful magical object. Jane doesn’t have it though, and Leo wants her to find it and give it to him. She doesn’t plan on giving it to anyone. In fact, she hopes to find it and destroy it before it can fall into anyone’s hands. I enjoyed the bit of history that we get at the beginning on the Mithrans. It’s colorful, to say the least. Oh yeah, there’s also…something in one of Leo’s subbasements, and it’s bad enough to set Jane’s/Beast’s scent sensors throbbing and get Leo’s huge security guys’ knees knocking. It either has really bad breath, or it’s really, really bad. It’s unclear, as well, what has been causing the elevators to stop on the wrong floors.

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Nicholas Sansbury Smith on the Orbs series, why he loves SFF, and much more!

Please welcome Nicholas Sansbury Smith to the blog! I was thrilled to be able to ask Nick about his Orbs series (Book 2 is out this week), and much more!

Also, be sure to visit Nick at NYCC with the rest of the Simon 451 authors!

nssOrbs 2: Stranded, just dropped and you’ve got Orbs 3: Redemption coming out in 2015 from Simon451. Will you tell us more about the series and what inspired you to write it?
The inspiration for the Orbs series came from a variety of sources, so it’s hard to narrow it down, but I can tell you where the idea behind the title started. Two years ago I was vacationing in Mexico. The second to last night of the trip I was strolling across our resort when I discovered these beautiful blue spheres. They were set up for a wedding along the ocean, with the surf crashing on the beach behind them. It was a beautiful and kind of odd sight. At that point, the idea of the biosphere was already firmly planted in my mind. So was the premise of human’s disappearing after Dr. Sophie Winston’s team entered the biosphere. But when I saw the glowing balls and the ocean beyond I began thinking about the invasion and the pieces finally came together. Orbs was a story I wanted to tell for years, and it really came together after Mexico and during my Ironman triathlon training. I spent thousands of hours running, biking and swimming to prepare for that race and much of what you read in Orbs was created in my mind during the training.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a bit more about yourself and your background?
I went to college thinking I would eventually go to law school. Then I graduated and had a job offer to work at the Iowa State House for Governor Tom Vilsack. I took it and started a graduate night program. I wasn’t happy. Deep down I always fantasized about writing full-time. I loved to tell stories and I wrote a couple of books in college that were unfortunately lost when my laptop was stolen. My idea behind my debut novel, The Biomass Revolution came to me when I was working at the state house. Some of my friends read Biomass and encouraged me to self-publish the story. I did, and nothing really happened. I spent the next year researching self-publishing and writing Orbs. By the time I was ready to release Orbs I had a solid marketing strategy. I launched the book, and by a stroke of luck and some skill I had an international bestseller. Everything else just kind of happened. I’m still in shock to this day. I absolutely love what I’m doing and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I’ve had so many stories swimming in my mind for years. Releasing them to the world has to be the greatest thing ever. I write for you all.
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Guest Post: Alis Franklin, author of Liesmith on Odin and urban fantasy

Alis Franklin’s brand new book, LIESMITH, just came out this week and I’ve got a great guest post by Alis, so enjoy, and be sure to check out the new book!

liesmithI grew up in a place called the Woden Valley.

People don’t believe me when I tell them this, but I swear it’s a real place. You can look it up on Wikipedia. One of the satellite town centers of Canberra, Australia’s capital city. It’s lower-middle to upper working class, whitebread-if-not-always-white. Filled with lots of quickly constructed, nearly identical 1970s homes of the type my mother calls Standard Canberra Plan: driveway descending into a double garage, living room and kitchen above, bathroom and laundry in the middle, four bedrooms off to the side.

The Woden Valley is all broad, quiet streets and big, towering gum trees because, back in the days when it was built, the local government gave each home an allotment of greenery to plant on the sprawling, generous blocks. Every suburb has a little semi-circle of local shops, and most are within walking distance to a greenbelt or reserve, like Mt. Taylor or Red Hill, or Isaacs Ridge if you live in one of the newer suburbs (“newer” being relative, say the 1990s or so).

The local mall is, in the bland way of suburban naming conventions, called Woden Plaza. It has a branch of one of Australia’s major department store chains, two of the major supermarkets, a cinema, some cafes, a library, a handful of government offices, a non-zero amount of ugly public art.

Also a bus interchange, which is why I spent a great deal of time there as a teenager, in transit between my high school and home.

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