Thursday, April 30, 2009

Review – “You’re So Vein” by Christine Warren

FROM THE BOOK JACKET:
Ava Markham is beautiful, savvy, chic, and more at home with Kate Spade than with the idea of fangs and fur. She can’t get quite used to the fact that some of closest friends have crossed over to the Other side. Then one night she is attacked by a rogue vampire, and her deepest fears are realized when her body begins a dangerous transformation from human to immortal—a change she cannot survive without the help of an alluring stranger who comes to her rescue…

Vladimir Rurikovich, an elite member of the European Council of Vampires, is on the prowl for a murderous vampire fugitive on the night he saves Ava from the clutches of death. It takes just one look for Dima to know he cannot live another eight centuries without the stunning and seductive Ava—until he discovers a secret about her bloodline that could change everything…
You’re So Vein is the latest installment in the Others series of paranormal romances. Set in New York City this is Ava’s story. She is the last single woman from her original clique of women friends. The series began with mutual dares to go out and experience their deepest sexual/romantic fantasy and as life would have it, book by book each got their wish and more.

Ava is the last and she harbours some fairly deep resentment towards the supernatural Others that have squired her friends away and she believes also subverted their humanity. To say that Ava is a prickly character would be understating the situation. Here is her reaction moments before her demise -
Thousand-dollar European-made Gina boots, and now they were going to look like crap when her body was found, That pissed her off.
But she is one of those difficult characters that grow on you not unlike Katherina in Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew whose tamer is played here by the understanding and patient Vladimir (Dima).

You’re So Vein finds Ava being turned into a vampire without consent. I always find this theme fascinating – seeing the character reactions, the choices they make and how it changes their lives. This of course is exacerbated here because Ava is not favourably pre-disposed towards Others and now she becomes one of them!

Some plotlines from earlier stories are resolved in this book and the political intrigue and mystery keep things moving well. Knowing the background of the characters and world-building for this series is nice to have but I find they stand pretty well on their own. Not sure where the series goes from here with all of the women spoken for, but I can only hope there are more to come.

AUTHOR AND BOOK SHOWCASE Official Christine Warren Website

St. Martin's Press
Published: March 2009
ISBN #: 9780312947927
Format: Paperback
Pages: 327

The Others Series:

Reading sequence does not necessarily coincide with publication date.

  1. One Bite With a Stranger (2008) – my review
    (expanded version of Fantasy Fix)
  2. The Demon You Know (2007)
  3. She’s No Faerie Princess (2006)
  4. Wolf at the Door (2006)
  5. Howl at the Moon (2007)
  6. Walk on the Wild Side (2008)
  7. You’re So Vein (2009)


Review - “Deadly Desire” by Keri Arthur

FROM THE BOOK COVER:
Guardian Riley Jenson always seems to face the worst villains. And this time’s no different. For it’s no ordinary sorceress who can raise the dead to do her killing. But that’s exactly what Riley expects to find at the end of a trail of female corpses used—and discarded—in a bizarre ritual of evil. With pressure mounting to catch one fiend, another series of brutal slayings shocks the vampire world of her lover, Quinn. So the last thing Riley needs is the heat of the upcoming full moon bringing her werewolf hormones to a boil—or the reappearance of a sexy bounty hunter, the rogue wolf Kye Murphy.

Riley has threatened Murphy with arrest if he doesn’t back off the investigation, but it’s Riley who feels handcuffed by Kye’s lupine charm. Torn between her vamp and wolf natures, between her love for Quinn and her hots for Kye, Riley knows she’s courting danger and indulging the deadliest desires. For her hunt through the supernatural underworld will bring her face-to-face with what lurks in a darkness where even monsters fear to tread.
Deadly Desire is the seventh adventure for guardian Riley Jensen in this top-notch urban fantasy thriller series set in a slightly futuristic Australia. More than almost any of the previous books, Deadly Desire stays solidly focussed on the supernatural crime mystery and is almost a solo showcase for Riley. Riley who is half vampire/half werewolf mostly uses her detection skills to get to the root of two separate cases - the horrific murders of older vampires and murders of young human women. There is more exploration of her blossoming paranormal abilities, especially her ability to sense the souls of the deceased and the use of magic.

Riley’s relationship with Quinn has evolved and matured. Riley is an extremely sensual and sexual creature (especially around full moon) and her personal time alone with Quinn is hot hot hot, but also very romantically handled. I love their chemistry, it seems and feels natural and real. Riley also continues with her entertaining flirting with the crime scene technician Cole. Lot’s of great dialogue there. The bad guys turn out to be suitably twisted and evil and deliver the requisite doses of madness and mayhem.

Riley’s investigations find her crossing paths with as the blurbs says – “sexy bounty hunter, the rogue wolf Kye Murphy.” Kye is the wildcard in the story, constantly keeping Riley off balance. Friend or foe. Potential lover or poison ivy. He has the potential to upset Riley’s recently acquired sense of peace and satisfaction with her life. Some interesting surprises to be had in Deadly Desire and it will be interesting to see what choices Riley makes in the next book Bound to Shadows. Fans of the series won’t want to miss this one and folks new to the series should have no trouble starting here because the secondary characters that appear from previous books play only peripheral importance to the main story.

AUTHOR AND BOOK SHOWCASE Official Keri Arthur Website

Excerpt from Chapter 1.

Bantam Books
Published: March 2009
ISBN #: 9780553591156
Format: Paperback
Pages: 352

Riley Jenson Guardian Series:

  1. Full Moon Rising (2006)
  2. Kissing Sin (2007)
  3. Tempting Evil (2007)
  4. Dangerous Games (2007)
  5. Embraced by Darkness (2007)
  6. The Darkest Kiss (2008)
  7. Deadly Desire (2009)
  8. Bound to Shadows (Oct 2009)


Review – “Undead and Unworthy” by MaryJanice Davidson

FROM THE BOOK COVER:
Vampire Queen Betsy Taylor - newly married and living in the suburbs - rules the night in this seventh book from MaryJanice Davidson's New York Times best-selling series. Already busy dealing with a pesky ghost, Betsy must rise to the occasion when a pack of formerly feral vamps comes calling.
Undead and Unworthy is the seventh book in this series of humorous vampire shenanigans. Queen Betsy is her usual opinionated and ribald self. The theme this time around is a little darker than previously, with Betsy and her friends under assault from the former vampire fiends who have regained their awareness. They blame Betsy for their condition and want revenge. There is a lot of running around and ass-kicking happening. And of course a few of Betsy’s trademark high octane bouts in the sack with Eric. A new and unwelcome ghost also manifests in the mansion. Betsy is having sex with Eric on the office desk when her dead mother-in-law appears, in a scene that is an absolute howler.

Queen Betsy is unique. Yes there are other fashionista, snarky paranormal characters out there but MaryJanice Davidson’s Queen Betsy is always worth the price of admission. Admittedly, I read these just to hear what comes out of Betsy Taylor’s mouth next, which more often than not leaves me smiling regardless of the merits of the plot.

I listened to the audio version of this book and found narrator Nancy Wu’s interpretation of Betsy quite to my liking. Try out the sample below (but beware it is not office friendly). Undead and Unworthy is a quick read and perfect for a guilty pleasure interlude or for the beach. The books are fairly brief so you may want to wait for the paperback edition out this fall in this fiscally difficult time. This series is among the best of comedic Vamplit fiction. Best read in order. Go ahead and give it a try. You know you want to. The next book in the series Undead and Unwelcome is due for release June 24, 2009.

AUTHOR AND BOOK SHOWCASE Official MaryJanice Davidson Website

Interview and excerpt at Romantic Times.

Listen to an audio sample.

Penguin Group (USA)
Published: June 2008
ISBN #: 9780425221624
Format: Hardcover/Audio
Pages: 304

Betsy Taylor Series:

  1. Undead and Unwed (2004)
  2. Undead and Unemployed (2004)
  3. Undead and Unappreciated (2005)
  4. Undead and Unreturnable (2005)
  5. Undead and Unpopular (2006)
  6. Undead and Uneasy (2007)
  7. Undead and Unworthy (2008)
  8. Undead and Unwelcome (June 2009)


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Guest Author Diana Rowland

I am very pleased to welcome author Diana Rowland here to SciFiGuy.ca to talk about her writing and her forthcoming urban fantasy novel Mark of the Demon. This supernatural crime thriller debuts on June 23rd, so I encourage you to pre-order it now because it is terrific (you can see my review here) and you will not want to miss it.

Also I will be doing a draw for a copy of Mark of the Demon. All you have to do is leave a question for Diana, a comment or just say hi. Diana will be dropping by to respond to your queries, so put your thinking caps on.

Here’s a quick extract of Diana’s bio as a bit of background to lead in to her guest post.

She has worked as a bartender, a blackjack dealer, a pit boss, a street cop, a detective, a computer forensics specialist, a crime scene investigator, and a morgue assistant, which means that she's seen more than her share of what humans can do to each other and to themselves. She won the marksmanship award in her Police Academy class, has a black belt in Hapkido, has handled numerous dead bodies in various states of decomposition, and can't rollerblade to save her life. She presently lives in south Louisiana with her husband and her daughter where she is deeply grateful for the existence of air conditioning.


First off, I want to thank Doug for allowing me this chance to come here and guest blog. The release of Mark of the Demon is less than two months away and I’m at that stage of nerves where I’m practically stopping strangers in the street to tell them that I have a book coming out. So, I’m sure that random strangers everywhere will be very grateful to you for giving me this outlet!

Mark of the Demon came from two very different origins. Many years ago I wrote a short fantasy/romance-ish story about a sorceress who was working what she considered to be perfectly normal magic, when a powerful (and hot and sexy!) arcane creature appeared. I’d originally intended to submit it to a print magazine that published short romantic fiction, however, the magazine folded before I ever submitted the story, and I ended up trunking it (a good thing, too, since it really was more of a vignette than a story.)

Fast forward many years later, and I was in the process of leaving my career in police work to take a job with the local coroner’s office. However, the year before I’d placed first in the Writers of the Future contest, and in between the time I left the one job and took the other, I flew out to California to spend a week at the workshop and award ceremony. I left the workshop motivated and excited about writing, absolutely determined that I was going to work my butt off and become a professional writer. During a brutally long layover in the Atlanta airport, my husband and I discussed the fact that I should write a crime thriller--utilizing my background as a police officer, detective, and forensic specialist. We even drafted out a rough premise and outline, and as soon as I got back home I dove into working on it.

But a funny thing happened before I even finished writing the first chapter: I happened to stumble across that vignette I’d written years ago, and I suddenly began to see my main character--a homicide detective--as the “sorceress.” I scrapped what I’d written, scrapped my outline, kept the basic premise, and started over. I was still writing a crime thriller, but this time it had demons in it, and Oh My God it was fun to write!

The road to publication for Mark of the Demon was actually a fairly dull and standard one. I finished the book, revised it and revised it some more, and then spent many hours researching agents and submission guidelines. I queried thirty-three agents, and one of the first ones I queried, Matt Bialer, offered me representation after requesting the full manuscript. After that the book went through another round of revisions, then went on submission to the publishing houses. It didn’t sell in a week, it didn’t go to auction, and I didn’t get a six-figure advance right out of the gate. Instead it was six months before an offer came in, but I have to say that it was worth the wait because I’m now with a terrific publisher (Bantam) and my editor (Anne Groell) is completely made of awesome win, and helped me make this book into something that I think is really incredible and special.

So even though I didn’t originally set out to write urban fantasy, I don’t think that there’s any question that Mark of the Demon falls pretty squarely into that genre. I’m pleased about this, because I think that urban fantasy has a huge amount of life left in it, despite what many might say. (Stacia Kane wrote an excellent blog post about this subject, and since she did such a good job of it I’m just going to ditto what she said. http://stacia-kane.livejournal.com/107806.html ) Moreover, I think that urban fantasy not only has the potential to be very socially relevant, but it also has the appeal of offering an easy escape from a real world that can be full of upheaval and heartbreak and stress. This is not to say that urban fantasy can’t be complex and challenging--because it certainly can be!--but it doesn’t necessarily require as much suspension of disbelief, and it’s easier for the reader to lose themselves in the story. “Okay, so everything’s the same, except that my next door neighbor might be a werewolf/vampire/demon. I can believe that!”

I love writing and I love telling stories, and perhaps one of these days I’ll get used to the idea that I can do it for a living. A sequel--tentatively titled Blood of the Demon--is scheduled for release in February 2010, and hopefully enough people will love the books that I’ll be able to continue to write about Kara, Rhyzkahl, Ryan, and Tessa. There’s plenty of story still to be told, and I absolutely can’t wait to share it all with you!


Thank you Diana! No argument here that urban fantasy is a genre that is here to stay with a loyal and passionate fan base. OK readers here’s your chance to pose a question for Diana or just leave a comment or say hi. I’ll be leaving the draw open until Monday when I will randomly select a name from among the commenters. The prize will be sent out when the book is released. You can also visit Diana at her website or personal blog or visit her at The Magic District writers blog.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Today is a big release day for

Today is a big release day for urban fantasy, fantasy and paranormal titles. Two that I have reviewed earlier are Eve of Darkness by S.J. Day, the first in a new series and Dayhunter by Jocelynn Drake, the sequel to Nightwalker. Enjoy.

Here are just a few of the other titles out today:
  • The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong
  • Burning Wild by Christine Feehan
  • The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers by Angie Fox
  • Doomsday Can Wait by Lori Handeland
  • On The Prowl by Crystal Jordan
  • Salt and Silver by Anna Katerine
  • Demon Can't Help It by Kathy Love
  • The Pretender's Crown by C.E. Murphy
  • The Trouble with Demons by Lisa Shearin
  • Storm Glass by Maria Snyder
  • Forbidden Nights With a Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks
  • Bride of the Wolf by Jennifer St. Giles
  • Lover Avenged by J.R. Ward

Monday, April 27, 2009

All About Reviewers

John at Grasping for the Wind has another Inside the Blogosphere exposé where he asks his fellow book review bloggers -
"What is your reviewing process? Take us from the moment you receive a book till you post the final review, and the how, why's and wherefores of that process."
Check out the many interesting responses including one from yours truly.

Harry Markov (daydream) over at Temple Library Reviews has embarked on an ambitious project to review and interview the reviewers. He has a line-up of 25 reviewers (including moi) planned which you can see here and kicks off the series with one of my favourite sites and reviewers, Theresa of Fantasy and Sci-Fi Lovin’ News and Reviews.

Last but not least I will be appearing for a brief interview along with several other - ahem - gentlemen - on Blog Talk Radio hosted by Dallas from the Loving True Blood in Dallas blog. The show is tonight at 9:00 pm central time.
Topic: It's a man's world (but it's nothing without Sookie Stackhouse) Dallas talks to men *gasp*. We talk to all male fans tonight about what they like about the Sookie Stackhouse books and the True Blood TV series. Is it different from what female fans like ? Let's find out .. Very special musical guest ....

We are live 9:00 pm and chat room opens at 8:45 if you can't make the live show the podcast is usually available on the blog an hour later and on iTunes the next day.
The link to the show is http://www.blogtalkradio.com/True-Blood-in-Dallas/2009/04/28/Its-a-mans-world-

Cover Art - "Walking Dead" by C.E. Murphy

C.E. Murphy has posted the cover to her fourth Walker Papers urban fantasy book Walking Dead as well as a lengthy excerpt. The book releases September 1, 2009.

Reading Excerpts and a Reminder


DIANA ROWLAND GUEST POST
A reminder that I have a very special guest posting here on Wednesday. Diana Rowland will be here to tell you about her debut urban fantasy novel Mark of Demon. Please stop by, pose a question for Diana or just say hello.



READING EXCERPTS
Diana Pharaoh Francis has posted online the first two chapters of the third book in her fantasy Crosspointe series. The Turning Tide releases May 5, 2009. Of the book Diana says -
It opens with a blurb about what the book is about, but I’ll give you just a little bit more. First, this book introduces some new characters–Ryland, Shaye and Fairlie. We also get to see Keros (from The Cipher) a little–he gets a lot more face time in The Traitor King. You get to see a whole lot more majick and you get to learn a lot more about spawn. As usual, there’s mayhem and intrigue and bit of death and destruction for good measure.
Rachel Vincent has also posted an excerpt of the fourth Shifters book Prey which releases July 1, 2009. Click here for the PDF excerpt. Rachel says -
Now a little setup for the excerpt… This section comes at the end of chapter two. Faythe and Marc have just been reunited and are part of a caravan taking Manx (and her new baby!) through the free zone on the way to her trial. (But Faythe won’t attend this trial–she’s too busy trying to hold everything else together.)


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Review – “Destiny Kills” by Keri Arthur

FROM THE BOOK COVER:
DESIRE CALLS. DANGER LURKS.BUT…DESTINY KILLS

When Destiny McCree wakes up beside a dead man on an Oregon beach, she knows only this: she has to keep moving, keep searching, and keep one step ahead of the forces that have been pursuing her from the heart of Scotland to this isolated spot. Why? The death of her lover has left her alone, with little memory of her past. A glimmering serpent-shaped ring is the one clue she has—and a bargaining chip in a most dangerous game…

Enter Trae Wilson, a master thief with a sexy, knowing grin and a secret agenda of his own. Destiny and Trae both have powers far beyond the human—and both are running for their lives. Together they’re riding a tide of danger, magic and lust…but with killers stalking their every move, they must use any means necessary, even each other, to survive—until the shocking secret of one woman’s destiny finally unravels…
Destiny Kills is the beginning of a paranormal romance series by veteran author Keri Arthur who writes the popular Riley Jensen Guardian urban fantasy series. My review is based on the unabridged audio recording which I always find to be a nice change of pace. Narrator Cassandra Campbell has a wonderful warm (and sexy) voice and handles the different character voices admirably.

After the enticing open (see the blurb) Destiny gradually recovers her memory and hooks up with the roguish Trae. Destiny is a sea dragon and Trae is an air dragon. Destiny has escaped from a secret facility in Scotland where she was held captive for over a decade, the subject of scientific experiments. Destiny enlists Trae’s aid to help her free the remaining hostages that include her mother and numerous children. Thus begins a high-energy cross-country adventure where they are pursued by enemy agents intent on their recapture or death.

The authors’ depiction of the air and sea dragons is fresh and evocative and a welcome change from the usual shape shifters. There was a sense of the sensual and mysterious in their basic natures which was particularly enjoyable in scenes where they shifted to their alternate forms. Their abilities and dragon culture were also new and interesting. Secondary themes of honour, love and family play a hefty role in the developing story arc.

While there is plenty of action in Destiny Kills, it never loses sight of the romance between Destiny and Trae. They are well matched and I enjoyed the byplay as they explored the possibilities with enough sizzle to entice the reader (or listener) on. Destiny Kills has very different feel from the Riley books and is an ideal choice as a summer beach read and for those that like their romance paranormal.

Up next Keri Arthur's seventh Riley Jenson book - Deadly Desires.

AUTHOR AND BOOK SHOWCASEOfficial Keri Arthur Website

Dell Publishing
Published: October 2008
ISBN #: 9780553589603
Format: Paperback/Unabridged Audio
Pages: 336

Excerpt from Chapter 1.

Listen to the Audio Book sample.

Myth and Magic Series:

  1. Destiny Kills (2008)
  2. Mercy Burns (TBD)
Riley Jenson Guardian Series:
  1. Full Moon Rising (2006)
  2. Kissing Sin (2007)
  3. Tempting Evil (2007)
  4. Dangerous Games (2007)
  5. Embraced by Darkness (2007)
  6. The Darkest Kiss (2008)
  7. Deadly Desires (2009)
  8. Bound to Shadows (Oct 2009)

Nikki and Michael (Paranormal Romance) Series:

  1. Dancing With the Devil (2000)
  2. Hearts in Darkness (2000)
  3. Chasing the Shadows (2002)
  4. Kiss the Night Good-Bye (2004)

Damask Circle (Paranormal Romance) Series:

  1. Circle of Fire (2001)
  2. Circle of Death (2002)
  3. Circle of Desire (2004)
Ripple Creek Werewolf Series:
  1. Beneath a Rising Moon (2003)
  2. Beneath a Darkening Moon (2004)

Spook Squad (Urban Fantasy) Series:

  1. Memory Zero (2004)
  2. Generation 18 (2004)
  3. Penumbra (2005)


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Urban Fantasy News and Tidbits

Author Events

A reminder that Diana Rowland will be guest posting here on Wednesday April 29th to talk about her urban fantasy debut novel Mark of the Demon (my review here) and I will have an interview with fantasy author John Marco on Tuesday, May 5. His new young adult fantasy novel Starfinder launches the same day (my review here).


Contest Alerts


Author News and Updates

Chloe Neill (Some Girls Bite) is introducing a interesting new feature on her blog The Daily Snark - WIP (Work in Progrss) Thursday. If you're a writer, drop by, leave a comment, and let her know what you're working on. Each Thursdy, she will pick one commenter and feature their WIP on the blog.

Chloe's WIP: I'm currently (1) awaiting the third of four rounds of edits on FRIDAY NIGHT BITES, and (2) I'm in the final stages of drafting FIRESPELL, the first book in my new young adult series.
If you would like an opportunity to chat with Chloe here are the details for an event next week.
Where: The Knight Agency Forum
When: Thursday, April 30, 2009, 9:00 p.m. est.
How: Visit the chat room, and type in a username and password. Your computer must be Java-enabled to chat.

Kmont at Lurv à la Mode has a great new author spotlight on Seanan McGuire who has a new urban fantasy series coming out beginning with Rosemary and Rue which releases September 1, 2009 followed by A Local Habitation in March 2010 and An Artificial Night in September 2010. The series features amazing Chris McGrath covers. Seanan McGurie on her website says the titles are from Shakespeare's plays and that several more books are planned.

The first three books are finished. I'm currently revising book four, Late Eclipses, while writing book five, The Brightest Fell. There are definitely at least two more after that: Ashes of Honor and Tributes in the Dust.

Yasemine Galenorn talks about her works in progress and advises that she has Bone Magic (book seven in the Otherworld series) coming January 5, 2010 and Inked, an anthology with an Otherworld novella in it (Etched in Silver—the story of when Camille and Trillian first met and how they became sexually bound to one another). And in June 2010, Night Myst the first in her new Indigo Court urban fantasy series. will be released. Yasmine can be reached via her website at www.galenorn.com, and via MySpace: www.myspace.com/yasminegalenorn. She is also the co-founder of the Witchy Chicks.

C.E. Murphy is working on Demon Hunts, book five of the Walker Papers. Book four, Walking Dead, will be out in September 1, 2009.

Rachel Vincent has an excerpt from the upcoming Prey (July 1, 2009) online. Check out her post on the Deadline Dames for more information.



Illustration Academy Website

If you are a lover of illustration, Irene Gallo the Art Diector at Tor brings this to our attention -

The Illustration Academy just revamped their website with lots of cool goodies to steal away your time. Galleries of the instructors and students, podcasts, and mini demo videos. Includes Jon Foster, George Pratt, Gary Kelley, Sterling Hundley, Anita Kunz, and others. They also started a blog and, considering the artist at their disposal, it has potential to be an amazing daily stop.


George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones to Film in Northern Ireland

Lots of news floating around this week about the announcement that the first book in George R.R. Martin's Ice and Fire series ewill be filmed in Northern Ireland commenicing in October. Here are a few of the links borrowed from Tor and Pat's Fantasy Hotlist. You can also check out the Winter Is Coming website - the "official" source for news and rumours about HBO's Game of Thrones.

SteamPunk Magazine

If you like steampunk, be sure to check out the SteamPunk Magazine website where you can download Issue #5 of this awesome magazine.

Cover Art - Shadowlight by Lynn Viehl

Lynn Viehl posted the cover for Shadowlight the first book in her new paranormal series The Kyndred which I believe is set in her Darkyn universe. She previously posted an excerpt from Shadowlight on her blog here. The book is due for release November 3, 2009. You can vist her at her blog Paperback Writer. And there is no escaping the fact that UF and PNR covers are swinging towards eye candy for the ladies.



Saturday Feel Good Music

Caught this over at Ellen Datlow's blog. Great song and love the way they do this.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Inspiration - I'm Glad Life Has Moments Like This

I just saw this video over at Angieville and had to share.
More than 200 dancers were performing their version of "Do Re Mi", in the Central Station of Antwerp. with just 2 rehearsals they created this amazing stunt! Those 4 fantastic minutes started the 23 of march 2009, 08:00 AM. It is a promotion stunt for a Belgian television program, where they are looking for someone to play the leading role, in the musical of "The Sound of Music".

Cover Art - "To Crave a Blood Moon" by Sharie Kohler

Here is the cover for the third book in Sharie Kohler's Moon Chaser paranormal series. To Crave a Blood Moon is due for release August 25, 2009. More eye candy for the ladies. Earlier books in the series were Marked by Moonlight (2007) and Kiss of a Dark Moon (2008). Sharie Kohler also writes historical romance under the pen name Sophie Jordan. You can visit Sharie's website here.

A BITE TOO FAR . . .

Imprisoned and tortured by a lycan pack, half-breed Sebastian Santiago is determined not to break. But now they’ve come up with a cruel plan-starve Sebastian until he is half-mad with hunger, then force him to succumb to his werewolf instincts by giving him human prey to feed off.

Snatched from the Istanbul streets, American tourist Ruby Deveraux has already seen the horror of her companions torn apart. Now she is thrown into a dark cell with a shadowy shape she can barely see. But Ruby is no ordinary woman. All her life she has been able to sense the emotions of others, and she knows instinctively that while Sebastian does not want to be her enemy, he is in the grip of sensations so dark and primitive that he can barely control them. But amid his surging feelings she can detect passion-passion for her as a woman. This, she realizes, may be her only hope.

In the unrelenting dark, trapped in a hideous prison, can Ruby and Sebastian somehow forge a fragile alliance, and break free from their deadly captors to seize a love neither dreamed possible?

Cover Art - "Eternal Kiss" edited by Trisha Telep

Rachel Caine today revealed the cover for the new young adult vampire anthology edited by Trisha Telep (of the Mammoth Books fame) called Eternal Kiss: 13 Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire (July 27, 2009) in which she has a new Morganville Vampires story. The lineup of authors looks pretty impressive too.

  • Kelly Armstrong
  • Holly Black
  • Libba Bray
  • Sarah Rees Brennan
  • Cecil Castellucci
  • Cassandra Clare
  • Melissa De La Cruz
  • Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie
  • Dina James
  • Karen Mahoney
  • Maria V. Snyder
  • Lili St. Crow

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Intertwined - Full Urban Jacket

Further to my last post here is the full dust jacket to Gena Showalter's YA novel Intertwined. Click for a closer view.

Cover Art - "Demon Bound" by Caitlin Kittredge

Caitlin Kittredge has announced the cover for Demon Bound, the second book in the Black London urban fantasy series coming in December. The first book in the series Street Magic is due for release June 2, 2009. Read my review here and visit Caitlin's blog here.



New Harlequin Teen Imprint Launches with Urban Fantasy

Harlequin is launching a new young adult imprint this summer called Harlequin Teen and the exciting news is they are launching it with two urban fantasy novels, each part of a new series. The first is My Soul To Take by Rachel Vincent (The Soul Screamers series), followed a month later by Intertwined by Gena Showalter (A novel of the Damned series) on September 1. There is a website dedicated to the launch of the new line called of course – Harlequin Teen. Here is the official announcement sent to reviewers as well as expanded previews of the books. You can also read the first chapter of My Soul To Take here and the first chapter of Intertwined here.
Welcome to Harlequin Teen, a brand-new imprint launching in August 2009, dedicated to showcasing extraordinary young-adult fiction. Featuring a wide range of genres, the program delivers fresh, authentic stories that will engage teens and leave them hungry for more. With a relatively young author base that includes New York Times bestselling authors and talented new voices, Harlequin Teen has something for everyone. From fun and flirty to dark and mysterious and every mood in between, Harlequin Teen books will resonate with readers and be remembered long after the covers are closed.

We're proud to present you with our first two titles. MY SOUL TO TAKE by New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent is book one of the Soul Screamers series. The story features a courageous and determined teen banshee heroine who must stop her classmates from dying before their time. Told in Vincent's fast-paced, dramatic style, MY SOUL TO TAKE delivers what bestselling author Melissa Marr calls "a story unlike any other out there. I loved it." We hope you do too!

INTERTWINED by New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter tells the story of Aden Stone, a teen with four human souls trapped inside him. For months, one of those souls has shown him visions of a beautiful girl entering his life—a girl who will either save him or destroy him. And even though he's half in love with her before she ever arrives, he's unprepared for the centuries-old secrets she brings with her.... New York Times bestselling author of the House of Night series P.C. Cast says, "I couldn't put it down!"
Kaylee Cavanaugh just wants to be an average high school girl but it's hard to fit in with everyone else when you're going crazy. After all, what would you call the ability to sense the imminent death of people around you? Whenever she sees a shroud-like substance envelope an individual Kaylee knows that person is going to die—and that's when she's compelled to let out a soul-wrenching, ear-piercing wail.

Kaylee is at her wit's end when she Nash Hudson, the most popular student at school, takes an interest in her. Nash tells her that she is not crazy, that she is in fact a bean sidhe—a banshee. Bean sidhes are an ancient race able to see when people are about to die. Their keening, allows the soul of the recently deceased to make their goodbye's before moving on.

Nash knows because he's a bean sidhe, too. Male bean sidhe, he tells Kaylee have different powers from the more well-known females. They have no eerie lament to make souls linger. Instead they are able to influence and guide souls (and people).

When three perfectly healthy young girls collapse and die over three days for no apparent reason, Kaylee and Nash decide to do something, about it. Kaylee wants them to save the girls—to guide their souls back into their bodies—but Nash warns against it. He says the reapers, the unliving beings who collect the souls of the deceased, wouldn't be happy—and you don't want an angry reaper coming after you. Besides, if you save one soul, another must take its place.

But Kaylee is not convinced. She suspects that the girls—all of them high school age—were not meant to die. What if there is a rogue reaper out there killing people before their time? Nash agrees it's a possibility but there's only one way to know for sure—to ask a reaper.

But dealing with reapers is dangerous. Bean sidhes and reapers are fundamentally on opposite sides of the metaphysical fence. Bean sidhes allow souls to linger while reapers are very officious in whisking them away. And, Nash warns, there are other unspeakable creatures out there for bean sidhes worry about than just reapers.
What if you found out that there was an entire world out there that you had no idea existed? A world full of vampires and zombies and werewolves? And what if you had the strangest powers of all? Powers that seem like a magnet for all those monsters, drawing them closer and closer together? Do you still think you'd get up in time for school in the morning?

People think sixteen-year-old orphan Aden Stone is crazy because he talks to himself all the time but they don't know that he has a good reason ... after all, with four people living inside his head, he can hardly ignore them. But Aden knows he isn't crazy, because each of the four voices also possesses an ability that screws with his life. Julian can raise the dead (watch out for those random zombies). Elijah can see the future. Eve can time-travel into the past and change the future (not always for the better). And Caleb can overtake other bodies. Just one of those abilities is enough to make Aden special. But all four? Aden loves his souls like a family, but most kids can take a break from their family and be normal. Not Aden. Not ever. All he wants is some peace.

So when Aden moves to the new town of Crossroads, Oklahoma, and into the halfway house for wayward teens there, he's hoping for a fresh start. Being the new kid in school is never easy, though, especially when you're surrounded by bullies and jealous boyfriends. But when Aden encounters honors student Mary Ann Gray, he feels a connection to her he's never felt with anyone before. For some reason, whenever she's near, the voices in Aden's head disappear and he knows peace for the first time in his life. Aden's puzzlement grows when he learns that Mary Ann also has a werewolf bodyguard that walks her to and from school every day. But what is her lupine defender protecting her from and why does it hate Aden so much? And why does the wolf always seem to disappear when Aden's only friend at the teen shelter, Shannon, is around?

Things don't improve when Elijah starts having disturbing visions concerning Aden. One of Aden kissing a beautiful vampire princess... a vision that Aden desperately wants to come true. But the other is a death vision of Aden dying on a deserted street with a knife in his heart. If his death really is looming, Aden is desperate to find a way to set the friends in his head free before he dies. But how? Exorcism, spells and prayers don't work. Nothing does. Aden can accept his own death, but he wants his souls to have the life they've always craved.

Things just aren't going Aden's way. As the new kid in school, he's confused and miserable. His teachers don't like him much and he gets picked on at school and at home. Of his only two "real" friends, he can't get near the one who eases his suffering, Mary Ann, because of her werewolf bodyguard. A werewolf who he thinks is actually his only other friend, Shannon. Meanwhile, he's no closer to finding, either the sexy vampire princess or a way to get the souls out of his mind and into bodies of their own. Do other kids have problems like this?


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Review – “Dark Haven” by Gail Z. Martin

BOOK SUMMARY:
In Dark Haven, the effects of Jared the Usurper's reign of terror, strike at the stability of the Winter Kingdoms. Undead forces align against Lord Jonmarc Vahanian of Dark Haven in a struggle for power between mortals and the vayash moru. King Martris Drayke prepares for his wedding--and for war. Only one thing is certain—the Winter Kingdoms will be changed forever, and innocence is the first casualty.
Dark Haven is the third book in the Chronicles of the Necromancer epic fantasy series following The Summoner (2007) and The Blood King (2008). The first two books follow a kingdom lost/kingdom gained framework. Along the way we become immersed in the world of the Winter Kingdoms; Prince Martis Drayke (Tris), his friends, allies and companions. In Dark Haven, Tris, now king, inherits the legacy of war – the rebuilding of ravaged lives and lands and securing the peace against the remaining conspirators and opposition.

I have enjoyed all three of the books so far for a number of reasons. The world-building while thorough is not overwhelming and quickly allows you to escape into the action. The use of third person allows shifting perspectives and introduces a wide range of characters that we come to love and hate and introduces multiple story arcs. Although not as dense, it is not dissimilar to the formula George R.R. Martin successfully employs in his Ice and Fire series and this allows for a complex tale laden with action and intrigue.

In a departure from many epic fantasies, we also find an important ingredient of the story is devoted to the blossoming romantic relationships of our diverse cast. This brings a welcome dimension to the characters that help us to invest in their choices and well-being. Dark Haven sees many of these bonds mature including the marriage of Tris and Kiara, and Jonmarc and Carina. This raises the personal and political stakes and indeed a divide and conquer strategy is applied against our couples leaving them at risk and imperiled.

Another of the attributes that attracted me to the series was the liberal use of what I usually see as urban fantasy tropes. The series and Dark Haven, features Tris who is a necromancer (and Summoner) able to call, speak with and raise the dead, walk the spirit plains as well as wield magic; he can also ease the passage of ghosts and spirits to the other side. Dark mages raise the dead (zombies) and deploy supernatural creatures (demons). One of the strongest political factions is the vayash moru (vampires) who also have a loose alliance with shapeshifters (werewolves).

Despite having won back the kingdom, Tris must embark on a war campaign to quash the remaining resistance or the promise of peace will be short-lived. Each ally struggles to consolidate and strengthen their position but insidious plots abound and our protagonists are rarely left a moment to breath. Along with the intrigue, the action is often dark and bloody and should satisfy the demands of those in need of an intense sword and sorcery fix.

Dark Haven concludes with a lot of story arcs up in the air and is most certainly the first half of a broader story arc, so be prepared to wait for the outcome of the fates of many of the characters. Don’t let that hold you back though, Dark Haven is a thoroughly entertaining page turner filled with engaging good guys and suitably dangerous bad guys. I recommend that you read the series in order.

AUTHOR AND BOOK SHOWCASEOfficial Gail Z. Martin Website

BL Publishing/Solaris
Published: January 2009
ISBN #: 9781844165988
Format: Paperback
Pages: 606

Chronicles of the Necromancer:

  1. The Summoner (2007)
  2. The Blood King (2008)
  3. Dark Haven (2009)
  4. Dark Lady's Chosen (December 29, 2009)


Review – “Dayhunter” by Jocelynn Drake

FROM THE BOOK JACKET:
A new day dawns blood red
A master of fire, Mira is the last hope for the world. For centuries she has secretly enforced the history-altering edicts of the Triad. Now she and her unlikely ally—the human vampire hunter, Danaus—have come to Venice, home of the nightwalker rulers. But there is no safety in the ancient city, for the threat of conflict is in the wind . . . with unholy alliances and earth-shattering betrayals taking hideous form in the shadows.

Banished for eons beyond the world's boundaries, the malevolent naturi prepare to feed once again upon a vulnerable earth—and treachery is opening wide the portal that will enable their dread re-emergence. The great battle that has always been Mira's destiny is looming, and she must remain powerful in the face of a shocking revelation: that Danaus, the only creature she dares to trust, is something more than the man he claims to be . . .
Dayhunter is the sequel to last year’s auspicious debut dark urban fantasy novel Nightwalker. This instalment of the Dark Days series continues immediately following the events of Dayhunter with Danaus, Mira and Tristan heading to Venice to answer the summons of The Coven, the ruling body of the nightwalkers.

It is very appropriate that in Dayhunter, a significant portion of the story takes place in Italy, the birthplace of Machiavelli because Dayhunter is a deeply riveting tale of power, revenge, secret agendas and betrayal. Mira is hoping to get answers that will help her thwart the next attempt of the naturi to breach the barrier and allow their return to our reality. The fate of humanity continues to be at stake and time is running out.

Mira continues to be a wonderfully complex and compelling character, nuanced and sometimes filled with self-doubt. On the memories of her human life and daughter she reflects -
Would I still cherish my sweet Calla and the life I once had if I was evil? In the gathering darkness with Danaus at my side, those questions were all I had left to cling to.
Dayhunter sees Mira beginning to acquire ‘family’, something she had never contemplated or desired. She challenges and wins Tristan from his sire to save his life. This leaves Mira conflicted but does not hamper her resolve to protect once the decision is made.
Rage pumped through my veins, pushing aside the blood. I hated him. I hated myself. I hated the fates that had bought us to this precipice. There was no escaping the promise I had made nor living with myself if I even tried to.
Mira is part of the Triad that protects humanity from the naturi, but being a nightwalker we wonder why this matters to her. Understanding Mira’s connection with humanity underscores our belief and identification with her character.
Reluctantly, I released her as her heart slowed to a lethargic beat. Holding her in my arms, I stared down at her smooth young face. I didn't know her. She could have been a college student or a young mother on her way home. I hadn't taken the time to sift around in her thoughts, learn her hopes or her fears. I didn't know her dreams for the future and I felt cheated. Hunting and feeding were more than a power rush. It was my last contact with humanity, the last thing that kept me bound to a race I had once been a part of.
Dayhunter as with Nightwalker, provides numerous terrific action sequences in Venice and later in Greece once they discover the location of the next naturi incursion. Scenes are very visual, graphic and move at a pulse-pounding pace. Actions of the various adversaries are rarely predictable and there are plenty of surprises surrounding the many intrigues that are introduced.

Danaus and Mira’s uneasy relationship continues to evolve in unexpected ways. Their unlikely partnership is further solidified as they band together - an island under siege by a hostile sea. We get to learn the secret of Danaus’ true nature and how their abilities mesh in unique and powerful ways. Events also continue to hammer away at their preconceptions of each other – their unspoken attraction remains but so does their fundamental recognition that this is a truce and they likely will return to being adversaries – if they survive.

Nightwalker was a strong debut for a new series, but with Dayhunter Jocelynn Drake has hit cruising speed effortlessly. This was a treat to read and I anxiously await Dawnbreaker this fall. Dayhunter hits the shelves next week. If you like your urban fantasy dark and dangerous and want a fresh and passionate heroine to root for, then try this book and this series.
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AUTHOR AND BOOK SHOWCASEOfficial Jocelynn Drake Website

HarperCollins Publishers
Published: April 28, 2009
ISBN #: 9780061542831
Format: Paperback
Pages: 356

Read an excerpt of the first five chapters.

Recent Interviews:
Darque Reviews

Dark Days Series:

  1. Nightwalker (2008) – my review
  2. Dayhunter (2009)
  3. Dawnbreaker (September 29, 2009)

Unbound (anthology August 25, 2009 contains the story The Dead, the Damned and the Forgotten which is a prequel to Nighwalker)

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Ultimate Vampire Book List

Romance and paranormal fantasy author Michele Hauf is having a contest to update her fabulous Ultimate VampList website. The contest runs until the end of April. Visit her blog for the complete contest details. This project has been a labour of vampire love by Michele since 1995 when she started out with 100 titles. The list has grown to over 4000 presently.

Michele observes that vampire romance has grown incredibly since the 90's, no doubt due to the ever-growing popularity of the urban fantasy and paranormal genres. Here is an interesting chart showing the dramatic increases (2009 figures are year to date).

So how many do you figure you have read?Contest details excerpted from Michele Hauf's post -
Now for the contest: I'll run this through the rest of April. What I'm looking for, simply, is a new title I don't list at the VampList.

Now here's the unsimple part. The title must not be listed anywhere at the Ultimate VampList. That means if you think Love's Bloody Desire by Crimson Tears is not listed because you checked the entire first HORROR page, but you didn't check ROMANCE or MYSTERY or CHILDREN's, then it actually could be listed elsewhere. So do a thorough check on all categories! Also, I may have a title listed in the wrong category (not purposely), so that would count as an entry if you told me what the right category is, and how you know that is the right category.
If you are the author of the book, you can enter with your title, if it isn't listed, as well. But again, make sure it's not already listed. (I will check, and usually recognize any title I do list.)

Now here's the lucky part. I haven't been able to get my Transmit program to work lately, so I have updates for all the pages that I can't put up right now. I have a lot of new titles listed. So you might enter with one of those titles, and since it's not online right now (only on my updated page that I can't upload) then that entry counts too. Confusing?

Just enter a title that isn't listed. Include: title, author, publisher, pub date, and if it's a part of a series, mention that too.

Send entries to toastfaery(at)gmail.com

Wait! I'm not done yet. So you don't want to sort through all those titles to see what's missing? Fine. I have another means to enter. Link to The Ultimate VampList at your blog or website (and make it permanent!) and send me the URL to the page with the link so I can verify, and you are entered. Here is the URL for VampList: http://www.vampire-books.com. Title it: The Ultimate VampList.

Winner gets...well, give me a day or two to find something good. I've got a stack of vampire book, not necessarily my own, that I could cull. So I'll announce a prize in a day or two.

Winner of "Some Girls Bite" by Chloe Neill

I fired up the Randomizer and it picked 14 which is -

My Blog 2.0 (Dottie)

Congratulations Dottie!. You win the signed copy of Some Girls Bite , a pen and a bookmark. Please email me (under my profile) your mailing info so that I can forward it along to Chloe Neill to get you your book.

And a huge thanks to Chloe Neill for guest posting and offering up the giveaway.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

RIP - Author J.G. Ballard (1930-2009)

Having been an avid reader of SF&F for most of my life, I read today with sadness that UK science fiction author J.G. Ballard has passed away. He will be missed. Author of dozens of novels and a multitude of short stories, I devoured all of his early fiction with eagerness. Later his mainstream novels Crash (1973) and Empire of the Sun (1984) were made into films by David Cronenberg (1996) and Steven Spielberg (1987) respectively. You can find out more about J.G. Ballard at his website and on Wikipedia.

A selection of J.G. Ballard book covers from my library:


NOVELS:
  • The Wind from Nowhere (1961)
  • The Drowned World (1962)
  • The Burning World (1964)
  • Variant Title: The Drought (1965)
  • The Crystal World (1966)
  • Crash (1973)
  • Concrete Island (1974)
  • High-Rise (1975)
  • Variant Title: High Rise (1988)
  • The Unlimited Dream Company (1979)
  • Hello America (1981)
  • The Day of Creation (1987)
  • Running Wild (1988)
  • Rushing to Paradise (1994)
  • Cocaine Nights (1996)
  • Super-Cannes (2000)
  • Millennium People (2003)
  • Kingdom Come (2006)

Reviewette – “From Russia, with Love” by C.E. Murphy

From Russia, with Love is a story about Janx and Daisani, the dragon and vampire characters from C.E. Murphy’s wonderful Negotiator series. Told in a Grimm’s fairy tale style, this story alone is worth the purchase of A Fantasy Medley.
"She eats men alive," one man said, and that was true, so I said nothing.
"She flies on a giant mortar," said another, and that too was true, so again, I said nothing.
"Her house has chicken legs and goes where it wants," said another, and once more spoke truth, and I held my tongue.
"Her daughter is the most beautiful woman in the world," said the first, and now too many things had been said, and so I said, "But Vasili, you tell me I am the most beautiful woman in the world," and he spread his arms and spilled his grog and said, "Why then you are Baba Yaga's daughter, and I bet neither of these fine lords can win your heart."
In From Russia, with Love, Murphy reveals how old and enduring the friendship between these two supernaturals is. Set in pre-twentieth century times, Janx journeys to Russia to seek out another dragon who has held sway over Moscow for centuries and may have a treasure that Janx covets. They encounter the daughter of the ancient and powerful witch Baba Yaga and both are immediately intrigued by her and she with them. Janx hopes to capture and offer up Baba Yaga to the Moscow dragon in exchange for the treasure he seeks. But the deliciously evil Baba Yaga turns the tables and uses her daughter as bait and manages to magically bind Janx to her will. This leads to heartbreak for all concerned.
"It was not a trap," I said heavily. "I thought we might steal a while without my mother knowing. But we are beneath her house, and nothing passes here that she doesn't see." Gaze lowered, I stepped past him, but he caught my arm with a fingertip touch. Compulsion brought my eyes to his, and if he had not been chained by my mother's will I might have thought that compulsion to be one he laid on me. But no: it came from within, burgeoned by apology, seeking forgiveness.
Utlimately Daisani must make a difficult decision and terrible choice to rescue his friend. The ending is suitably dark with an engaging twist. I highly recommend this stylish story. A great companion to the Negotiator/Old Race novels.


Subterranean Press
Published: April 28, 2009
ISBN #: 9781596062245
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 128

Stories:
  1. Zen and the Art of Vampirism by Kelley Armstrong (An Otherworld story)
  2. Riding the Shore of the River of Death by Kate Elliott (A Crown of Stars story)
  3. Words Like Coins by Robin Hobb (a Farseer story)
  4. From Russia, with Love by C.E. Murphy (a Negotiator story)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Reviewette – “Zen and the Art of Vampirism” by Kelley Armstrong

Zen and the Art of Vampirism is one of four stories in the anthology A Fantasy Medley edited by Yanni Kuznia.

Zen and the Art of Vampirism is set in Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld universe. This humorous piece features Zoe Takano. She is the only vampire in Toronto until a couple of vampires arrive and inform her that they are taking over her territory. Instead of the expected battle for supremacy, what we get is Zoe agreeing to leave the city and even offering to provide a thorough orientation of the city and their new responsibilities to the vampires. Poking a little fun at vampire culture, Zoe offers up this observation on their attire upon meeting the duo –
Someone had watched Underworld one too many times.
Zoe uses a subtle campaign of misdirection to slowly undermine the vampires’ confidence and desire to take over the city beginning with this too true but funny homage to Toronto –
"So you're looking at Toronto?" I laughed. "Seriously? Sure, it's a world-class city, multicultural, blah, blah. But it's Toronto. There's a reason a third-rate vamp like me lives here. No one else wants it. Long cold winters. Hot humid summers. Smog so thick you can taste it. Taxes are outrageous, and for what? Free health care? Like we need that."
By the time Zoe is finished with them, the would-be intruders can’t get out of town fast enough. At 24 pages, Zen and the Art of Vampirism is a brief and entertaining return visit to Armstrong’s Otherworld.
Subterranean Press
Published: April 28, 2009
ISBN #: 9781596062245
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 128

Stories:
  1. Zen and the Art of Vampirism by Kelley Armstrong (An Otherworld story)
  2. Riding the Shore of the River of Death by Kate Elliott (A Crown of Stars story)
  3. Words Like Coins by Robin Hobb (a Farseer story)
  4. From Russia, with Love by C.E. Murphy (a Negotiator story)

Urban Fantasy Tidbit Linkage

  • Don't forget to check Chloe Neill's guest post here at SciFiGuy to learn more about her new Chicagoland Vampires series and to win a signed copy of the first book Some Girls Bite. Contest runs until Monday.
  • Kelley Armstrong is interviewed at the Success Circuit about her writing and career.
  • Vampire Wire has the new cover for Karen MacInerney's Leader of the Pack, the third book in the Tales of an Urban Werewolf series as well as a very funny video which poses the question"Is Your Dog a Werewolf?"
  • Michelle Hauf tells us about GraphicAudio a new audio book company that bills its books as "A Movie in Your Mind". Check it out.
  • A reminder that author Diana Rowland will be guest posting here at SciFiGuy on April 29 to talk about her upcoming release of the urban fantasy crime thriller Mark of the Demon.