Saturday, May 30, 2009

Urban Fantasy Weekend Report

Interviews and Giveaways at SciFiGuy.ca

Canadian science fiction and fantasy writer Tanya Huff will be here June 4 to discuss her new urban fantasy novel The Enchantment Emporium. Tanya of course is the author of the Blood Books on which the Blood Ties television series was based. Her character Henry Fitzroy played by actor Kyle Schmid was the winner of The Ultimate Hawtest Vampire Poll at Vampire Wire.

Contest winners for copies of Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey were announced yesterday. I am still waiting to hear from two of the winners:

tetewa
kimberly b.

Please email me your shipping info to scifiguy(at)scifiguy.ca to receive your books.
CONTESTS

Alpha Heroes has 5 copies of Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey and will giving away one per weekday starting Friday 5/29.

To celebrate the release of The Cold Kiss of Death, the sequel to The Sweet Scent of Death, Susanne McLeod is having a giveaway - your choice of a signed copy of either of her books PLUS your choice of one of the Kitty books by Carrie Vaughn. To enter, just visit her site and comment telling her your favourite werewolf from fiction, TV or film.

Author Michele Hauf is having a contest for the Faeries Gone Wild anthology signed by ALL the authors. Drop over to her blog to read the rules.

Fantasy & Sci-Fi Lovin' Book Reviews has a contest until June 12 for four fantasy anthologies, Ages of Wonder (Edited by Julie E. Czerneda), Other Earths (Edited by Nick Gevers), Terribly Twisted Tales (Edited by Martin H. Greenberg) and Swordplay (Edited by Denise Little).

Another Santa Olivia giveaway is happening over at The Book Smugglers. They have five copies and the contest runs until Sunday night. And speaking of the Book Smugglers they also have a Flash Giveaway happening today only for two six-packs of paranormal books. Go there now!

Author Jackie Kessler has details on her blog about how to win copies of her and Caitlin Kittredge’s superhero novel Black and White.

Via Fang-tastic Books, details on how to win a copy of Blood Ties Season One on DVD.

Anna’s Book Blog is celebrating its second anniversary starting Monday and will be running a month of contests. Check it out here.

Rachel Vincent says on her blog you have a chance to win an early copy of Prey here, and an ARC of My Soul to Take here.

An Aguirre is giving away four copies of Lyn Benedict’s Sins and Shadows. Details on her blog.

Paranormal author Toni Andrews is holding a contest to celebrate the launch of the third Mercy Hollings book CRY MERCY, on sale June 1st from MIRA Books. You can win a SIGG aluminum water bottle and signed copies of the first two books in the Mercy Hollings series BEG FOR MERCY and ANGEL OF MERCY. To enter click here and follow the link just sign Toni’s Guest Book before May 31.


AUTHOR AND BOOKS NEWS

Online magazine Drops of Crimson which specializes in Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Urban Gothic, Steampunk, and Horror stories has a new issue out with some interesting articles including -

  • C.E. Murphy - Author Interview by Neal Levin
  • J. F Lewis - Author Interview by J.Lee Moffatt
  • Turn Coat by Jim Butcher - Review by Brian Rubin
  • The Remy Chandler Novels by Thomas E. Sneigoski – Review by J.Lee Moffatt
  • Bad to the Bone by Jeri Smith-Ready - Review by J.Lee Moffatt

Chloe Neill announced on her blog that Penguin has picked up books three and four in the Chicagoland Vampires series. No word yet on estimated publication dates.

Lilith Saintcrow announced on her blog that Betrayals, the follow-up to her young adult novel Strange Angels is now available for pre-order on Amazon. It has a November release date. And here is video with Lilith discussing the first book.

Lori Devoti (Amazon Ink) talks about the definitions of urban fantasy and paranormal romance over at Romancing the Blog. Good stuff!

For those that may not have seen it, Publishers Weekly did a great story on urban fantasy this past week called When Love Is Strange: Romance Continues its Affair with the Supernatural. Also Marjorie Liu was interviewed for the piece and posted the full transcript of her portion of the interview. Check it out here. Want to see where Marjorie Liu does her writing? Check out her post on this weeks blog.
Loving True Blood in Dallas – Featured Website

True Blood based on the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris begins season 2 June 14 on HBO. For the most comprehensive coverage of all things True Blood visit Loving True Blood in Dallas.



Friday, May 29, 2009

Eight Short Reviews

I have fallen behind recently on keeping my reviews current with my reading. Some reviewers prefer to let the reading experience percolate a little before they write their reviews, but I like to review a book when it is fresh in my mind. Wanting to get back on track, this post is a collection of mini-reviews of recently read books that I have been unable to devote the proper time to for a full review, but I didn’t want to let the opportunity pass to share my thoughts on the following eight titles, all of which I enjoyed.


The Devil You Know by Mike Carey
FROM THE BOOKCOVER:
Felix Castor is a freelance exorcist, and London is his stamping ground. It may seem like a good ghostbuster can charge what he likes and enjoy a hell of a lifestyle--but there's a risk: Sooner or later he's going to take on a spirit that's too strong for him. While trying to back out of this ill-conceived career, Castor accepts a seemingly simple ghost-hunting case at a museum in the shadowy heart of London--just to pay the bills, you understand. But what should have been a perfectly straightforward exorcism is rapidly turning into the Who Can Kill Castor First Show, with demons and ghosts all keen to claim the big prize. That's OK: Castor knows how to deal with the dead. It's the living who piss him off...
I’d seen a number of rave reviews for the Felix Castor series. The books have been out in the UK for some time but are usually delayed before being published here. I received an advanced copy of Dead Men’s Boots which releases in the US July 23 (my birthday as it happens) and wanted to read the earlier books in the series first and boy am I glad I did. The Devil You Know is the first in this delicious urban fantasy noir series and features Felix Castor, an exorcist and a character with one of the most unique authorial voices I have read. Every line of Felix’s dialogue, whether internal or conversational is strewn with sly and self-deprecating humour and delightful observations of the other characters and situations. The world-building is dark and edgy with a really intriguing take on the dead – after the millennium they simply starting appearing to regular people, as ghosts, as zombies and even as were-creatures. Exorcists like Felix are in demand. I can’t recommend this series highly enough.



Vicious Circle by Mike Carey

FROM THE BOOKCOVER:
Castor has reluctantly returned to exorcism after the case of the Bonnington Archive ghost convinced him that he really can do some good with his abilities ('good', of course, being a relative term when dealing with the undead). But his friend, Rafi, is still possessed; the succubus, Ajulutsikael (Juliet to her friends), still technically has a contract on him; and he's still--let's not beat around the bush--dirt poor. Doing some consulting for the local constabulary helps pay the bills, but Castor needs a big, private job to really fill the hole in his overdraft. That's what he needs. What he gets, good fortune and Castor not being on speaking terms, is a seemingly insignificant 'missing ghost' case that inexorably drags himself and his loved ones into the middle of a horrific plot to raise one of Hell's fiercest demons. When Satanists, sacrifice farms, stolen spirits and possessed churches all appear on the same police report, the name of Felix Castor can't be too far behind...
In Vicious Circle, the second book in the series, Felix Castor takes a lot of punishment and becomes a prime suspect in kidnappings and murders. The secondary characters in these stories are a big part of the attraction of the series. Juliet, the succubus, who was introduced in the first book, plays a much larger role this time around. This is a depiction of a succubus as you may never have seen before - very alien, lacking morality and very scary. I absolutely loved her. The central mystery is complex and satisfying, the action plentiful and violent. And Felix’s wit continues to be at its sardonic best. Felix can also be philosophical, a nice layer to this complex character. Surprisingly he is an atheist or at least an agnostic which may seem strange given that he exorcises ghosts for a living which others would consider proof of an afterlife and God. This case causes some reevalutation of his by Felix of his world view. As an antithesis to his own position on the matter his brother is a priest. A rich and rewarding reading treat.

Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder
FROM THE BOOKCOVER:
As a glassmaker and a magician-in-training, Opal Cowen understands trial by fire. Now it's time to test her mettle. Someone has sabotaged the Stormdancer clan's glass orbs, killing their most powerful magicians. The Stormdancers—particularly the mysterious and mercurial Kade—require Opal's unique talents to prevent it happening again. But when the mission goes awry, Opal must tap in to a new kind of magic as stunningly potent as it is frightening. And the further she delves into the intrigue behind the glass and magic, the more distorted things appear. With lives hanging in the balance—including her own—Opal must control powers she hadn't known she possessed…powers that might lead to disaster beyond anything she's ever known.
In Storm Glass, her fourth fantasy novel, Maria V. Snyder returns to the world she first introduced in Poison Study (2005), Magic Study (2006) and Fire Study (2008). This time around Opal Cowan, a secondary character from Fire Study is front and center. Many of the players from the earlier books make an appearance as well. Opal is a softer, more tentative character than Yelena from the earlier novels. She has a single unique magical gift that allows her to place magic within glass during the casting process. The glass objects can be used by magicians to communicate across great distances. A valuable attribute, but Opal feels inadequate with only this minor skill in her repertoire. Opal's story is engaging because she is a flawed character, forced to confront her own fears (she has many) and desire for happiness and fulfillment. The glass theme and backdrop is exotic and interesting, the pacing excellent and the plot engaging. Interestingly, the earlier books have been repackaged as young adult and whether the knowledge of that influenced my reading I don’t know, but I did feel that this book leaned more strongly toward that readership than the previous books. A sequel, Sea Glass is forthcoming September 1.

Secret Life of a Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks
FROM THE BOOKCOVER:
A typical bachelor party is all about beers and beautiful women. A vampire bachelor party is no different -- except the men are drinking Blissky (whiskey-flavored synthetic blood). And no one can throw a party quite like Jack, the illegitimate son of the legendary Casanova. But when the party gets out of hand and the cops show up, Jack has some explaining to do . . . if only he wasn't struck speechless by the beauty of Officer Lara Boucher. Lara is sure there's something more than a bachelor party going on. What is Jack hiding? And why is he so interested in the recent disappearance of young women all over town? Her investigation uncovers more than she wants to know, especially about this modern-day Casanova. But if she's ever to make detective, she'll need to expose all his secrets . . . if only her heart wasn't on the line.
Secret Life of a Vampire is book six in Kerrelyn Sparks Love at Stake series of paranormal romances. This series is always is a guilty pleasure read for me. I enjoy the hijinks of the employees of MacKay Security and Romatech Industries. Every book features one of the male vampires who discovers his true love and mate. In these books it is all about the chase. He wants – she doesn’t. The object of desire is a human with no awareness of the supernatural or vampires so part of the dynamic of each book is the big reveal by the vampire. Achieving a HEA is the objective and the journey is always amusing, and fun. The next book in the series Forbidden Nights with a Vampire was released in April. For some light escapist reading you can’t go wrong with this series. (Note in the interest of full disclosure I did find that the last instalment All I Want for Christmas is a Vampire was not as strong as the earlier books but with Secret Life of a Vampire the series has returned to form).



The Immortal Hunter by Lyndsay Sands

FROM THE BOOKCOVER:
Even vampires need a vacation. But Decker Argeneau's ends abruptly when he's asked to help hunt the group of rogue vampires targeting mortals -- one that might include a defector in his own family. Before he can worry about that, though, he's got to rescue the latest victim. It's all part of the job, including taking a bullet for a beautiful doctor. Dr. Danielle McGill doesn't know if she can trust the man who just saved her life. There are too many questions, such as what is the secret organization he says he's part of, and why do his wounds hardly bleed? However, with her sister in the hands of some dangerous men, she doesn't have much choice but to trust him. Except now Decker's talking about life mates and awakening a passion that's taking Dani beyond anything she's ever known. Being undead may not be half-bad...especially if it means spending forever with a man who would love her with his mind, body, and immortal soul.
The Immortal Hunter is the eleventh book in Lyndsay Sands Argeneau Vampires paranormal romance series and the second in the Rogue Hunters story arc. This book resumes immediately after the events of The Rogue Hunter. Sands’ twist on vampires is unique, based on nano-technology developed in lost Atlantis. The central premise of each Argeneau book is that one of the vampires discovers his life mate. He knows this because vampires can read the minds of all but their mates. The enforcers for the Council are still looking for rogue vampires and this time it is Decker who steps to center stage and of course finds his life mate in Danielle McGill, a doctor kidnapped and rescued from the rogues. Her sister remains in their clutches and the search is on. A little darker than the previous book, this one ends with a significant cliff-hanger to be continued in The Renegade Hunter coming September 29. My review of The Rogue Hunter here.

Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill
FROM THE BOOKCOVER:
Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn't exactly glamorous, but it was mine. I was doing fine until Chicago's vampires announced their existence to the world-and then a rogue vampire attacked me. But he only got a sip before he was scared away by another bloodsucker... and this one decided the best way to save my life was to make me the walking undead. Turns out my savior was the master vampire of Cadogan House. Now I've traded sweating over my thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan "Lord o' the Manor" Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed, four hundred year old vampire, he has centuries' worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects my gratitude-and servitude. Right... But my burgeoning powers (all of a sudden, I'm surprisingly handy with some serious weaponry), an inconvenient sunlight allergy, and Ethan's attitude are the least of my concerns. Someone's still out to get me. Is it the rogue vampire who bit me? A vamp from a rival House? An angry mob bearing torches? My initiation into Chicago's nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war-and there will be blood...
Some Girls Bite is the debut urban fantasy novel by Chloe Neill, the beginning of her Chicagoland Vampires series. This is a strong and captivating first novel with terrific world-building and is a perfect example to demonstrate that there is plenty of life and originality still to be mined in the vampire oeuvre. I liked Merit, the smart sexy protagonist a lot. Torn from her human life and turned, she must face and accept the change in her life and I love the way her humanity still shines through in this thought –
As I shivered, naked and damp, in front of the bathroom mirror, I raised my eyes skyward. “I hope we’re still okay.”
Some Girls Bite is populated with strong and fully realized characters such as Merit’s roommate, and Ethan the vampire master of Cadogan House, the vampire fiefdom to which she is now sworn. House rivalries and a mysterious rogue provide much of the action and intrigue while we observe Merit adapt and navigate her new dark and dangerous existence. Highly recommended and likely one of my top debut picks for the year. Friday Night Bites, the next Chicagoland story is due in October. Chloe Neill was here as guest a while back and you can read her post here.

Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs by Molly Harper
FROM THE BOOKCOVER:
Maybe it was the Shenanigans gift certificate that put her over the edge. When children's librarian and self-professed nice girl Jane Jameson is fired by her beastly boss and handed twenty-five dollars in potato skins instead of a severance check, she goes on a bender that's sure to become Half Moon Hollow legend. On her way home, she's mistaken for a deer, shot, and left for dead. And thanks to the mysterious stranger she met while chugging neon-colored cocktails, she wakes up with a decidedly unladylike thirst for blood. Jane is now the latest recipient of a gift basket from the Newly Undead Welcoming Committee, and her life-after-lifestyle is taking some getting used to. Her recently deceased favorite aunt is now her ghostly roommate. She has to fake breathing and endure daytime hours to avoid coming out of the coffin to her family. She's forced to forgo her favorite down-home Southern cooking for bags of O negative. Her relationship with her sexy, mercurial vampire sire keeps running hot and cold. And if all that wasn't enough, it looks like someone in Half Moon Hollow is trying to frame her for a series of vampire murders. What's a nice undead girl to do?
Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs is hands down the funniest urban fantasy I have read this year. Luckily I didn’t read this anywhere in public because I am sure my constant chortling would have been deeply disturbing. As you can see from the blurb, Jane Jameson librarian is not having a good day, but she is definitely a glass half-full kind of girl and has a terrific and sometimes warped outlook on life that allows her to deliver an endless supply of funny observances. Here are some of my favourite lines from the book -
JANE: “What’s a vampire pet?” I asked, suddenly overwhelmed by visions of a humans on giant hamster wheels.

GABRIEL: “I’ve lived through two world wars and the disco era. I think I can manage.”

JANE: “There’s a handbook!” I asked, plucking it from the pink-wrapped cornucopia. “Thank God.”

JANE: I expected the local council to be a cross between the Lions Club and a Scorsese-esque panel of mafiosi.

JANE: I’d had post-apocalyptic nightmares like this, dreams of walking into the library and finding it ravaged, abandoned to scavengers and possibly, to zombies.
Each chapter is also prefaced with delightful quotes from “The Guide for the Newly Undead” -
New vampires are discouraged from trying to return to their normal human routines. Especially if those routines include tanning or working as a fireman. Your day will not end well.
-From the Guide for the Newly Undead.
Gabriel and Jane are well matched and the romance angle is well done. Solid pacing and an engaging story. What more can you ask. The next two books scheduled in the series are Nice Girls Don't Date Dead Men (Aug 25, 2009) and Nice Girls Don't Live Forever (December 29, 2009).

Demon Can’t Help It by Kathy Love
FROM THE BOOKCOVER:
A Demon...Not Just In Bed - Practical Josephine 'Jo' Burke has no patience for the paranormal - even if she's been having some strange visions lately. But if she is losing her mind, at least it would explain her new attraction to her co-worker, the least suitable man she could ever fall for...Maksim Kostova has no idea why he's so drawn to feisty mortal Jo, but he does know how she feels about the supernatural. Forget about her accepting him for what he really is, she'd never even believe him in the first place. Or would she? When Jo confesses to him that she's been seeing visions of a dead girl, it seems anything's possible...
Set in New Orleans, Demon Can’t Help It is a paranormal romance from Kathy Love. A standalone story it does embrace the background and some secondary characters from previous novels. Except for the main character Maksim being a demon, this could almost be considered a contemporary romance. Jo’s visions add a nice spooky element to the story and the romance is played out in an appealing fashion with some very erotic encounters. A secondary story arc surrounding Maksim’s search for his missing sister also contributes to the supernatural ambience although the reader recognizes the connections long before the main characters do. If you are looking for a milder paranormal, violence free, give this a try.

Amazon the Good

Checked the old mail box today and glory be there was my pre-order of Skin Trade by Laurell K. Hamilton. And quite a hefty tome it is clocking in at 486 pages. Gotta love Amazon when it ships early. Review coming next Tuesday (official release date).

Contest Winners for Santa Olivia

The contest is closed and the results are in - the Randomizer has selected the following fabulous folks to receive a copy of Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey. And the names are -
tetewa
kimberly b.
Megan
Valorie

Amber438


Please email me your contact information to scifiguy(at)scifiguy.ca.

Thank you to everyone who participated - sharing their most anticipated books and to all followers, new and old. Also a big thanks to the generous folks at The Hachette Book Group and Grand Central Publishing for supporting the contest.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Review – “Atlantis Unleashed” by Alyssa Day

FROM THE BOOKCOVER:
Poseidon’s warriors swore an oath eleven thousand years ago to protect humanity from those who stalked the night. Now those powerful forces are uniting. So are two souls who are all that stand between justice and the eternal darkness…

A warrior prince…Lord Justice made the ultimate sacrifice for his brother and paid for it with an unimaginable torture. Now he’s back, rescued from death, his sanity shaken, and his mission inescapable—the search for the lost Star of Artemis. But the beautiful human female whom he has sworn to protect is shadowed by an evil that could destroy them both…

A woman of science…The archaeological artifacts of Atlantis speak to Dr. Keely McDermott, sharing visions of life long ago. The ancient revelations have cast her into a world between past and present, between reality and illusion—and, when she meets the fierce Atlantean warrior assigned to guard her, between terror and temptation. Now as their two worlds collide, so too will danger and desire…

A quest for a lost star…Atlantis is unleashed.
Atlantis Unleashed is the newest paranormal romance from Alyssa Day and part of her Warriors of Poseidon series. I hadn’t read any of the full-length novels before and wasn’t sure what to expect, and what I discovered was an action romance that very much reminded me of Golden Age pulp fiction, bigger than life, full of alpha heroes and smart heroines, Gods and Goddesses, mystery, magic, and exotic locations. Think Saturday afternoon matinee Tarzan adventures or Doc Savage tempered with intelligent modern female protagonists.

I really liked the central love interest, Keely, a feisty archaeologist with an ability to psychically read objects. She gets invited to Atlantis and immediately becomes embroiled in Atlantean affairs and with the warrior Lord Justice. The two have a previous connection; hers through a cherished talisman she wears around her neck – an object carved by Justice hundreds of years ago and his from visions experienced while being tortured in the Netherworld. Once together they recognize this mutual bond. The following passage provides an example of the repartee and dynamic between Keely and Justice -
WeIl he was naked. Not so sure about unarmed, said the previously silent evil seductress side of her nature. That's a pretty big weapon he's got there.
Great. She picked now to go all multiple personality.
The sane side of her went right back to its personal agenda of scared, terrified, and pretty darn frightened, apparently, if the goose bumps traveling up her arms were any indication.
"Keely, please be calm." he said quietly, as if soothing a wounded animal.
"I'll be calm when you get me out of here," she pointed out, proud of how reasonable her voice sounded, when her heart was thumping in her chest. "Not the way we got here, either. None of that 'beam me up, Scotty,' crap. A nice, normal tunnel. Or stairs. Stairs would be good."
Atlantis Unleashed takes us to from the undersea kingdom of Atlantis to the jungles of South America with battles in ancient ruins, vampire orgies and trips to the past via Keely’s object reading ability. The novel contained some scenes that obviously referred to series wide story arcs but didn’t require any previous familiarity with the series to understand the context. If anything they pique the interest to discover what has happened in previous episodes. The overriding objective of all of the warriors is to recover the jewels of Atlantis that will allow the city to rise again into the world.

Throughout Atlantis Unleashed, Lord Justice struggles with the aftermath of his Netherworld experience and dual nature as a Nereid-Atlantean half-breed, which has essentially left him with a split personality whose inner voices want different things from Keely. It remains for Keely to tame his inner demons and help him integrate the personalities. Even with all of the action and adventure the core of Atlantis Unleashed is about Keely and Justice’s romance which is a roller coaster ride as they surmount the obstacles thrown in their way.

If you are looking for a fun blend of high adventure and paranormal romance, pick up a copy of Atlantis Unleashed, get some popcorn and settle in for a delightful read. Another adventure/romance unfolds July 7 when the release of Atlantis Unmasked brings us the story of another of the Atlantean warriors.

AUTHOR AND BOOK SHOWCASEOfficial Alyssa Day Website

Penguin Group (USA)/Berkley
Published: June 02, 2009
ISBN #: 9780425220412
Format: Paperback
Pages: 331

Read an excerpt from Chapter 1.

Warriors of Poseidon Series:

  1. Atlantis Rising (2007)
  2. Wild Hearts in Atlantis from Wild Thing anthology (2007)
  3. Atlantis Awakening (2007)
  4. Shifter’s Lady from Shifter anthology (2008)
  5. Atlantis Unleashed (2009)
  6. Atlantis Unmasked (July 7, 2009)
  7. Atlantis Redeemed (Feb 2010)

View an Interview with Alyssa Day

Calling All Writers

Want a little buzz or feedback about your Work In Progress (WIP)? Chloe Neill, author of the Chicagoland Vampire series (Some Girls Bite and the forthcoming Friday Night Bites) hosts WIP Thursday on her blog The Daily Snark. Just drop by and leave comments discussing your latest projects, or provide an update on your previous comments. Friday, Chloe will feature one commenter's WIP on the blog!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Inside the Blogosphere

It's time again for a new edition of Inside the Blogosphere over at Grasping for the Wind. This time around the discussion is about Authors of Note, Without Notoriety. Participants were asked -
There are many well-known authors in the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres, usually known because they hit the NYT Bestseller list, or through good marketing. But who are the less well-known authors you have enjoyed that that we should be looking to read, and why?
There are some great recommendations so check it out.

Contest Winner for ARC of Intertwined

The winner of the ARC of Intertwined by Gena Showalter is -

BOOK JUNKIE

Thank you to all those that participated and shared your passion for YA fiction and to those that linked and for the hugs too! I only wish I had more copies after such a wonderful response.

Book Junkie we look forward to your review! Send me your contact information and I will get that out to you lickety spit.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Interview - Author Jacqueline Carey

This Friday (May 29) the urban fantasy novel Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey is being released. Santa Olivia is one of the best novels I have read this year, so I was especially pleased when Jacqueline Carey graciously agreed to an interview to discuss the new book and her writing. You can view my earlier review here.

I have 5 copies of Santa Olivia available for giveaway courtesy of the wonderful folks at The Hachette Book Group and Grand Central Publishing. Details at the end of the post.

Jacqueline Carey is also the bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Kushiel's Legacy series of historical fantasy novels and The Sundering epic fantasy duology. You can visit her website here for more information.

A very warm welcome to Jacqueline Carey!

Q1. On your website you talk about some personal events that surrounded the creation of Santa Olivia. Can you tell us a little more about why you chose to write this particular book now?

It had a lot to do with the political climate – the debate over immigration, proposals to build a giant wall along the Mexican border, propaganda wars, intelligence being twisted to serve a political agenda, rendition and torture of detainees. Those are all themes that serve as a backdrop to the book, and issues that are ongoing despite the change of climate. I thought it would be interesting to take those elements to the extreme, and see how one character, my genetically-fearless heroine Loup, might inspire hope in the midst of despair and apathy.

Q2. You have said that Santa Olivia contains some of your favourite secondary characters ever. Can you tell us more about them?

I love Pilar Ecchevarria and Miguel Garza, because they’re so unabashedly themselves. Pilar’s a would-be unrepentant gold-digger with a big heart that leads her in the opposite direction of everything she thinks she wants. Miguel’s a bully and a jerk who turns out to be far less of a jerk than he realizes. And he gets a lot of good lines! Both of them are just a great deal of fun to write.

Q3. Do you have any sequels planned for Santa Olivia or perhaps similar projects that may delve into urban fantasy territory?

I have a sequel to Santa Olivia in mind, a sort of caper novel that’s more light-hearted than the first book, although it would continue to address ongoing political themes. And I’m considering another possible urban – actually, small-town – fantasy project that’s barely in the gestation stage. We’ll see!

Q4.The sport of boxing features prominently in the story. What kind of research did you do to prepare for writing those scenes?

It’s a little-known fact, but I enjoy watching boxing. No one else I know does, so I don’t really follow it, and mostly watch when I’m alone on the road. I read an extensive history of the sport, as well as a few technique and training manuals, and watched a lot of old matches online. Oddly enough, in college I happened to see the tragic match between Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and Duk Koo Kim that led to the latter’s death due to brain injuries sustained in the fight. No doubt that’s been in the back of my mind all these years.

Q5. Originally you were going to publish Santa Olivia under a pseudonym. What changed your mind?

Initially, my editor and I were concerned that coming out with a book so completely unlike anything I’m known for writing could have a negative impact on sales momentum. Taking creative risks is good for artists, but there’s always a potential commercial downside. We thought using a pseudonym could offset that risk, and possibly pick up a different audience. But when the publishing schedule was determined, we realized Santa Olivia was coming out within a month of Naamah’s Kiss, and decided that sales momentum wouldn’t be an issue, and that there was more of an upside to cashing in on whatever name recognition I have. In other words, it’s all about the bottom line!

Q6. What books do you read when you have the chance? Any must have authors, series or genres?

Sadly, I don’t have as much time for pleasure reading as I’d like; I spend a lot of my reading time on research materials. As a result, I don’t have any current must-haves. But I’m an eclectic reader, and I’ll happily read across the board in any genre. I do have old favorites I’ll return to from time to time, like Mary Renault’s novels set in ancient Greece; or in fantasy, works by authors like Patricia McKillip, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Richard Adams.

Q7. If you could be any paranormal creature, which one would you be and why?

I’ll go with a siren, because I always wished I could sing. And there’s a certain parallel with being a writer, except instead of using a beautiful voice to lure men to a watery grave, we try to use beautiful language to lure readers into the depths of the worlds we create.

Q8. Next month you have the newest book and start of a new trilogy in your Kushiel series being released. Tell us a little about Naamah’s Kiss.

It’s the first book of a new trilogy set in the Terre d’Ange milieu, several generations after the end of the Kushiel’s Legacy series. My heroine, Moirin, is born to the bear-witches of the Maghuin Dhonn, but her father is a D’Angeline Priest of Naamah. Moirin has a small gift for subtle magic, a powerfully sensual nature, and an inconvenient destiny that will send her to the far side of the world.

Thank you Jacqueline for your time and the interview! Jacqueline Carey will also be returning on June 17 to be interviewed for her June release of Naamah's Kiss. A very busy spring for Jacqueline. I'll also be hosting a giveaway for the book, details to come.

Directions for entering the giveaway for 5 copies of Santa Olivia can be found here. Contest ends Midnight May 28th.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Cover Art - "Bite Me!" by Melissa Francis

Here is the cover for Bite Me! the first book in a new urban fantasy young adult series by Melissa Francis. The book releases July 28, 2009 with the sequel Love Sucks! planned for spring 2010. You can visit her brand new website dedicated to the series here or visit her blog here for more information.

AJ Ashe isn’t your typical seventeen-year-old vampire—as if there is such a thing. Her ex-boyfriend—whom she’s still totally in love with—is now her stepbrother. A former classmate—who, um, she may or may not have turned into a vampire—is stalking her. And now, apparently, the fate of humankind lies in her little undead hands. Whatever happened to the good old days when all a vampire girl had to worry about was the occasional zit and hiding her taste for blood?

Review – Vamped by Lucienne Diver

FROM THE BOOKCOVER:
Gina Covello's Perks and Pitfalls of Vamp Life
1. Hello?! Eternal youth and beauty!
2. Free. Designer. Clothes.
3. My hot new boyfriend Bobby went from chess dud to vamp stud.
4. No reflection! First order of business: turn my own stylist to stop the downward spiral from chic to eek.
5. Vampire vixen Mellisande has taken an interest in my boyfriend, and is now transforming the entire high school into her own personal vampire army. If anyone's going to start their own undead entourage it should be me.

I guess I'll just have to save everyone from fashion disasters and other fates worse than death.
Vamped by Lucienne Diver is a debut young adult urban fantasy. Clocking in at only 230 pages this is a fairly quick read. Gina Covello, the central character is one of those high maintenance, high school princesses with a snarky attitude that delivers a number of the usual laughs and chuckles, but underneath this familiar exterior lies a mind with a somewhat sharper interior wit -
I felt a little like Alice in Wonderland—with pointy teeth and bloodlust. Okay, so maybe as Quentin Tarantino would do Alice ...
and later...
He kissed me then and it was practically one of the great screen kisses of all time ... like MJ and Spiderman, only right side up.
As you can see Vamped does riff off of contemporary pop culture a good deal and the references work quite well. I particularly liked this scene towards the conclusion of the book –
Right there in the doorway was a man in a phat black suit—like midnight black, the best tailoring I'd ever seen. If he was armed, he kept his piece hidden and one hand casually in his right hip pocket. And, oh yeah, he wore his sunglasses at night.
"Holy crap," Bobby said in hushed reverence. "The Men in Black. They really do exist."
Vamped follows the trials and tribulations of a group of teens that have been turned and trained by Mellisande, a nefarious vampiress, who has plans to overthrow the local vampire council. Gina’s new boyfriend and sire, Bobby is the key to her success. Named in a prophecy and with untold powers, Bobby is the linchpin in the scheme.

I had a few reservations with Vamped. While the writing is quite polished and the dialogue sharp, I didn’t always buy into the characterization and there are a few hard to swallow plotting issues. Gina’s transition from self-involved fashionista to fearless leader and protector of the teens is perhaps a bit too abrupt and I would have liked to see more scenes building up to this. Which is not to say that Gina doesn't experience some traumatic moments that do contribute to her transformation, learning some hard realities -
"Get the hell out of my head!" I screamed, mentally and physically. Maybe I had some vain hope that our psychic connection ran both ways and I could somehow make him recoil, but mostly I just couldn't take it any more. I wanted to drown out the whispers, if only for a second.
Some of the plotting issues may in fact be explained in the next book, but I found the premise of so many supposedly dead/missing teens from a single high school and not raising a major furor in the community to be a bit unlikely and some of the changes in alliances that take place also seemed illogical. You’ll have to judge for yourself.

However, there is an innate energy to this book that made it a fun and rollicking read. Despite my few misgivings, Vamped is a strong set-up novel and promises a sequel and series with a really fresh premise that I am quite excited about. Vamped should prove popular with its intended audience and adults will find it an easy, uncomplicated diversion. ReVamped comes out in 2010. Oh and in case you hadn’t noticed, that is a really great cover design.

AUTHOR AND BOOK SHOWCASEOfficial Lucienne Diver Website

Llewellyn Worldwide/Flux
Published: May 2009
ISBN #: 9780738714745
Format: Trade paperback
Age Range: Young Adult
Pages: 230

Read an excerpt from Chapter 1.

Vamped Series:

  1. Vamped (2009)
  2. Revamped (2010)


True Blood Season 2 Preview Scenes

Rather than a teaser, here are some actual scenes from the second season of True Blood which starts June 12.



Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cover Art - "Death's Mistress" by Karen Chance

Scooper at Scooper Speaks uncovered the cover for Death's Mistress, the second book in the Dorina Basarab, Dhampir urban fantasy series by Karen Chance following Midnight's Daughter (2008). The book isn't due for release until January 5, 2010. Visit the author's website here. Karen Chance also writes the popular Cassandra Palmer series.

Dorina Basarab is a dhampir—half-human, half-vampire. Subject to uncontrollable rages, most dhampirs live very short, very violent lives. So far, Dory has managed to maintain her sanity by unleashing her anger on those demons and vampires who deserve killing.

Back home in Brooklyn after the demise of her insane uncle Dracula, Dory’s hoping her life is about to calm down. But then she gets some visitors. A friend wants Dory’s help in finding a magical Fey relic, and the gorgeous vampire, Louis-Cesare, is desperate to find his former mistress Christine.

Dory and Louis-Cesare quickly discover that the same master vampire Christine is bound to is also rumored to be in possession of the relic. But when the master vampire turns up dead, they realize that there’s more at stake than a missing mistress. Someone is killing vampire Senate members, and if Dory and Louis-Cesare can’t stop the murderer, they may be next…

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Urban Fantasy Weekend Report

Interviews and Giveaways at SciFiGuy.ca
There are still two days left to get your entry in to win an ARC of Intertwined by Gena Showalter. Details here.

I have an interview with Jacqueline Carey about the highly anticipated Santa Olivia on May 26th. The current giveaway for five copies of Santa Olivia remains open until May 28. You can enter here.

Canadian science fiction and fantasy writer Tanya Huff will be here June 4 to discuss her new urban fantasy novel The Enchantment Emporium. Tanya of course is the author of the Blood Books on which the Blood Ties television series was based. Her character Henry Fitzroy played by actor Kyle Schmid was the winner of The Ultimate Hawtest Vampire Poll at Vampire Wire.

Jacqueline Carey will also returning for an interview on June 17th to discuss the upcoming release of Naamah’s Kiss, the seventh book in her Kushiel saga. The new book sounds very exciting.


NEW PARANORMAL ROMANCE SERIES FROM HARLEQUIN NOCTURNE
P.C. Cast reports on her blog that she is participating in a new paranormal series from Harlequin Nocturne called Time Raiders. The four authors of the series P.C. Cast, Cindy Dees, Lindsay McKenna and Merline Lovelace are all romance writers and military veterans – ROM vets. Cindy Dees provides an overview of the series -
  • All four of us are former military members. (You'll see why that's important in a minute.)

  • The Time Raiders are a group of female military members, and they all happen to be psychic.

  • That's important because it helps them use a time travel machine (built with technology culled from the Roswell UFO crash) to visit, among other things, some of the gutsiest women in human history.

  • Got that picture in your head? Now, hand the Time Raiders a map to twelve medallions that, when retrieved across time and combined, will form a phone of sorts to call an intergalactic council and let them know humans are ready for space travel.

  • Throw in several forces that would dearly love to not only stop, but crush, the Time Raiders. A few of them are, in fact, out to destroy mankind.

  • Last but certainly not least, add a bunch of extremely hot guys who can hold their own against the Time Raiders, but only until the lights go off.
A Prequel eBook is coming in July followed by The Seeker by Lindsay McKenna (August 1, 2009), The Slayer by Cindy Dees (September, 2009), The Avenger by P.C. Cast (October, 2009) and finally The Protector by Merline Lovelace (November, 2009).

More details are available on the Time Raiders website.


CONTESTS

The Deadline Dames have a guest posting from Anna Katherine who is giving away a signed copy of her novel Salt and Silver. You can comment over the next week until Saturday, the 30th, at midnight. They will announce the winner on Sunday. Contest is open to international readers, too.


AUTHOR AND BOOKS NEWS

P.C. Cast and I assume Kristen Cast also will be appearing on Good Morning America Thursday, May 28th and will also be featured on Nightline that night.

Katie MacAlister also mentioned she will be contributing to the August 2010 theme anthology Death’s Excellent Vacation edited by Toni L.P. Kelner and Charlaine Harris. The MacAlister story has Jim (the demon dog sidekick from the Dragon books) in human form. Jeaniene Frost (likely a Cat & Bones story) and Charlaine Harris are also contributing stories.

Mandi at Smexy Books has transcript details from last weks J.R. Ward chat about Lover Avenged and other upcoming Ward projects.The New York Times did a great profile of Charlaine Harris here.

A nice television interview with Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs author Molly Harper here.

Jeri Smith-Ready provided more details on her new teen urban fantasy series. The first book, Shade, will be released in hardcover from Simon Pulse on May 15, 2010. Shade will be rereleased a year later in paperback to coincide with the hardcover edition of Book Two, Shift. The series will just be known as the Shade books.

Cherie Priest's has a sold the novel Bloodshot, the first novel in the Cheshire Red Reports, about a neurotic vampire/thief and her wealthy client who was blinded by a secret military project and hires her to steal back his records.

Juno Books announced its release schedule for the remainder of 2009 and for 2010. Lots of great urban fantasy titles to look forward to.
  • Jun 09: Amazon Ink, Lori Devoti (mmp)
  • Jul 09: Vicious Circle, Linda Robertson (mmp)
  • Aug 09: Demon Inside, Stacia Kane (Megan Chase #2) (mmp)
  • Sep 09: Matters of the Blood, Maria Lima (mmp, reprint)
  • Oct 09: Blood Bargain, Maria Lima (Blood Lines #2) (mmp, reprint)
  • Nov 09: Blood Kin, Maria Lima (Blood Lines #3) (mmp)
  • Dec 09: Vampire Sunrise, Carol Nelson Douglas (Delilah Street, PI #3)(mmp)
  • Jan 10: Hallowed Circle, Linda Robertson (second of series) (mmp)
  • Feb 10: Shadowblade, Seressia Glass (Shadowchasers #1) (mmp)
  • Mar 10: Demon Possessed, Stacia Kane (Megan Chase #3) (mmp)
  • Apr 10: Embers, Laura Bickle (first of series) (mmp)
  • May 10: Amazon Queen, Lori Devoti (second of series) (mmp)
And for lots more urban fantasy news for the week check out Literary Escapism.


JACKSON PEARCE ON INSPIRATION

Friday, May 22, 2009

Cover Art - "The Better Part of Darkness" by Kelly Gay

The Better Part of Darkness is a debut urban fantasy novel by new author Kelly Gay. Kelly is showing the fabulous new Chris McGrath cover art but it isn't final so link over to her blog to have a look. Great cover Kelly! The book comes out Nov. 24, 2009.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cover Art - "Steamed: A Steampunk Romance" by Katie MacAlister

Now this looks absolutely delicious. Steamed: A Steampunk Romance comes out next February from paranormal romance writer Katie MacAlister. I for one would like to see more of this sub genre. Visit her website or blog for more information.

Jack Fletcher's heart is about to get punked.
Computer technician Jack Fletcher is no hero, despite his unwelcome reputation as one. In fact, he's just been the victim of bizarre circumstances. Like now. His sister happens to disturb one of his nanoelectromechanical system experiments, and now they aren't where they're supposed to be. In fact, they're not sure where they are when…

…they wake up to see a woman with the reddest hair Jack has ever seen-and a gun. Octavia Pye is an Aerocorps captain with a whole lot of secrets, and she's not about to see her maiden voyage ruined by stowaways. But the sparks flying between her and Jack just may cause her airship to combust and ignite a passion that will forever change the world as she knows it…

UPDATE: Cover Art - "Never After" Anthology

UPDATE: Marjorie Liu posted the official blurb for her anthology story The Tangleroot Palace on her blog today and I have added the description below. Apparently the Laurell K. Hamilton story is called Can You Bake A Cherry Pie? Anyone have any information on what Sharon Shinn is contributing?

On her blog today, Yasmine Galenorn unveiled the cover for the Never After urban fantasy anthology due for release November 3, 2009. It contains feminist fairy tales by Laurell K. Hamilton, Yasmine Galenorn, Marjorie Liu and Sharon Shinn. The Galenorn contribution is a novella from her Otherworld series. No information available yet on the contributions from the other writers.

The Tangleroot Palace by Marjorie Liu:
New York Times bestselling author Marjorie M. Liu tells the tale of a young princess who escapes betrothal to a warlord by entering a magical forest. But when an evil queen sends her on a quest to “The Tangleroot Palace” she faces dangers more perilous than marriage.

The Shadow of Mist by Yasmine Galenorn:
Siobhan Morgan, a friend of the D'Artigo sisters, has a hidden past. A selkie, Siobhan has told everyone she was sent to the United States because inbreeding was wiping out her people. What she didn't tell anyone was that a dark presence from her past who has been stalking her for a hundred years, since she first left the shores of Ireland. A man who will stop at nothing to possess her. With the help of the D'Artigo sisters, Siobhan must stop him before he destroys everything she loves and everything she's built in her new life.

Review – “Cold Moon Rising” by C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp

FROM THE BOOK COVER:
Former Mafia hit man Tony Giodone has been through a lot in the past two years. First, in Hunter's Moon, he's turned into a werewolf -- but his mate is human. By Moon's Web he's become part of a wolf pack run by an even tougher mob boss than his old one. Plus he's a pretty powerful psychic -- he can see the past through other people's memories!

Now Tony has to deal with more mobsters, an unhappy girlfriend, intensifying psychic visions, and a cabal of Sazi mass murderers who are trying to exterminate humanity.

There's one man who might be able to help Tony stop the cabal: Ahmad, the leader of the snakes. But Ahmad's got his own agenda, as Tony finds out when their psychic link deepens. Now Tony is along for the psychic ride as the former crown prince of an ancient empire is faced with his deadliest enemy . . . a woman he once loved who he was forced to betray.
Cold Moon Rising is the seventh Tales of the Sazi and revisits one of the most popular characters from the series - Tony Giodone, ex-mafia hitman and now werewolf enforcer for the Sazi. Billed as paranormal romance, this series should also satisfy urban fantasy readers with its imaginative world-building and original treatment of shapeshifter tropes.

Cold Moon Rising delivers an action-packed plot (see the blurb) complemented and balanced with the ongoing romance of Tony and Sue. Both are complex and flawed characters and this instalment sees some significant changes occurring to their relationship as Tony’s abilities heighten and Sue undergoes a life-changing experience. We also follow a new romance thread with Ahmed (cobra snake shifter) when he meets up with an old flame. This leads to a most interesting and graphic sexual encounter, that is to say the least highly original.

The writing is full of those little touches that bring verisimilitude to the characters supernatural world. For example this conflicted reaction of Tony’s while trudging through the jungle -
I took my hand away from my neck to look at the smear of blood-covered insect legs on my palm. Got it! The scent was enticing enough to cause me to bring my hand up to mouth and lick the blood off. Yuck. I hate it when I do that. I spat onto the ground to clear out the taste.
On a similar note, the humour never seems forced or out of place and is appropriate to the characters and their circumstances. Tony makes this wry observation about his Sazi partner while on the mission shortly after they had shape shifted -
Kerchee climbed down out of the tree slowly, keeping a close eye on me. I should probably find it weird that we were two guys naked in the jungle, but Brokeback Mountain this wasn't. It was more locker room of the weird than any sort of turn-on.
Filled with intrigue, spies, mafia dons, plots and counter-plots, Cold Moon Rising is also a worthy candidate for folks that like thrillers. This instalment brings us much closer to the secret of the secret cabal that seeks ultimate power but leaves plenty of answers left to be found in future books. A broad cast of unique and interesting secondary characters of both the shapeshifter and human variety, also contributes to the appeal of this series. The authors weave sufficient back story into the narrative to satisfy readers new to the series, but I do recommend starting with Hunter’s Moon (2004). Not due for release until August 4, 2009, this give you plenty of time to dip into the back list in anticipation of Cold Moon Rising. This series has been on my must buy list for years and I hope it keeps going strong for years to come.

Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC (Tor)
Published: August 04, 2009
ISBN #: 9780765359643
Format: Paperback
Pages: 369

Read an excerpt from Chapter 1.

Tales of the Sazi Series:

  1. Hunter's Moon (2004)
  2. Moon's Web (2005)
  3. Captive Moon (2006)
  4. Howling Moon (2007)
  5. Moon's Fury (2007)
  6. Timeless Moon (2008)
  7. Cold Moon Rising (Aug 2009)

Thrall Series:

  1. Touch of Evil (2006)
  2. Touch of Madness (2007)
  3. Touch of Darkness (2008)

Also

Magic's Design (2009) as Cat Adams



Vampire Diaries Paired with Supernatural

The CW network in a press release announced that they have confirmed that The Vampire Diaries based on the L.J. Smith books is a go for the fall and will precede Supernatural at 8:00 pm on Thursdays. Here's an excerpt from the press release.
“THE VAMPIRE DIARIES” (New Series)
Four months after the tragic car accident that killed their parents, 17-year-old Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev, “DeGrassi: The Next Generation”) and her 15-year-old brother, Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen, “Everwood”) are still trying to cope with their grief and move on with their lives. Elena has always been the star student; beautiful, popular and involved with school and friends, but now she finds herself struggling to hide her sadness from the world. As the school year begins, Elena and her friends are fascinated by a handsome and mysterious new student, Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley, “Army Wives”). Stefan and Elena are immediately drawn to one another, and Elena has no way of knowing that Stefan is a centuries-old vampire, struggling to live peacefully among humans, while his brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder, “Lost”) is the embodiment of vampire violence and brutality. Now these two vampire brothers ─ one good, one evil ─ are at war for Elena’s soul and for the souls of her friends, family and all the residents of the small town of Mystic Falls, Virginia. Based on the series of books by L. J. Smith, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES is from Alloy Entertainment and Bonanza Productions Inc in association with Warner Bros. Television and CBS Television Studios with executive producers Kevin Williamson (“Dawson’s Creek,” “I Know What You Did Last Summer”), Julie Plec (“Kyle XY,” “Wasteland”), Leslie Morgenstein (“Gossip Girl,” “Privileged”) and Bob Levy (“Gossip Girl,” “Privileged”). Marcos Siega (“Dexter”) directed the pilot.

Cover Art - "Daemon's Mark" by Caitlin Kittredge

Caitlin Kittredge has posted the sexy new cover to her fifth Nocturne City book Daemon's Mark on her blog. Not sure of the release date on this but Witch Craft (Book 4) isn't due until September 1.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Giveaway – ARC of Intertwined by Gena Showalter

Yesterday I posted a review for My Soul To Take (releasing August 1), the first book in the new Harlequin Teen line of urban fantasy books for young adults. For dark and mysterious reasons, I happen to have an extra ARC of the next book, Intertwined (releasing September 1) by Gena Showalter, so I am going to have a giveaway.

Just leave a comment about your favourite YA books or series to enter. Contest runs until next Monday at Midnight (May 26). I’m happy to ship anywhere. One last qualifier. If you win, I ask that you do a review of the book and post it on your blog, or if you don’t have a blog, I would be happy to have the winner do a Guest Review here at SciFiGuy.ca. Linking to this post from your blog earns an extra entry (don't forget to leave a note in the comments with the link). Good luck!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Review – “My Soul To Take” by Rachel Vincent

FROM THE BOOKCOVER:
Something is wrong with Kaylee Cavanaugh. She doesn't see dead people, but...

She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.

Kaylee just wants to be a normal girl, basking in the joy of having caught the attention of Nash, the hottest guy in school. But getting through a first date isn't easy when he seems to know more about Kaylee's need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only she knows who'll be next...
My Soul To Take is the first book in a new YA series from veteran urban fantasy writer Rachel Vincent. It is also the featured title for the launch of the new Harlequin Teen imprint along with Gena Showalter’s Intertwined. And it is a great choice to launch the line because My Soul To Take grabs you from the very beginning and doesn’t let go until the closing chapter.

Told in the first person, Kaylee is on the surface a normal teenage girl, but she has a secret. In fact just about everyone in this book has a secret. Kaylee has been raised by her Aunt and Uncle, her mother long dead and her father absent from her life and living abroad. She also constantly clashes with her slightly younger and ultra popular cousin Sophie. Kaylee sneaks out to a dance club with her closest girlfriend Emma. At the club she is approached by Nash, a star athlete and hottie that has never said more than a few words to her in the past, a boy with a skirt-chasing reputation. They dance, but then Kaylee begins to experience what she has been led to believe is a kind of panic attack, a screaming fit that previously resulted in her being briefly institutionalized by her Uncle. The attack is triggered when she observes another young woman on the dance floor -
My heart beat harder with every step she took. My hand curled around my glass until my knuckles went white. And that familiar sense of melancholy swelled into an overwhelming feeling of grief. Of dark foreboding.
I gasped, startled by a sudden, gruesome certainty.
Not again. Not with Nash Hudson there to watch me completely freak out. My breakdown would be all over the school on Monday, and I could kiss goodbye what little social standing I'd gained.
However, Nash’s reaction surprises her and in fact he takes her outside and the club and manages to calm and soothe her reaction. She returns home and even agrees to see Nash again despite reservations that he likely has ulterior motives. But the biggest surprise is the next day when she learns on the news that the young woman she saw is dead of no apparent cause. And she believes that her panic was her way of knowing the girl was going to die. She calls Nash and he believes her. Another girl dies elsewhere under similar unexplained circumstances and then the hammer falls when a third girl dies at school and Kaylee again experiences the knowing in advance. Nash is there to help her through it.

Obviously aware of many things she is not, Nash explains to Kaylee that she isn’t fully human and neither is he, that they are both banshees -
"I'm a bean sidhe?" Two tears fell before I could banish them, and I wiped the rest away with my sleeve. Nash nodded solemnly, and I repeated it, just to get used to the idea. "I'm a bean sidhe.”
He explains her ability to sing to the souls of the dead and his ability to direct them. She also learns of the reapers who come for the souls. They both believe that the three girls’ deaths are not normal, that something more sinister is at work. Nash enlists the aid of a reaper he knows to find out if the girls’ names were on ‘the list’ to be collected.

My Soul To Take is a terrific mystery on many levels from the central story arc of who is killing the young women to more personal concerns such as what do her Aunt, Uncle and father know about her abilities? What about her mother? It is also a voyage of self-discovery for Kaylee as she learns about her nature and the secret world she is now a part of. Nash is honest and open and does his best to give her the answers she seeks. Their chemistry and bond is built slowly, patiently and believably. These are fresh teen characters, no clichés, no super powers - just a young couple with a driving need to help as best they can and do the right thing. In fact the decisions made by the teens often lead to better outcomes then the choices made by the adults.

Aside from the death’s, My Soul To Take is refreshingly free of physical violence. The battles fought here are mostly metaphysical but the threat of dying at any time is real and sustains a tremendous level of tension and drama. Friends and family are placed in jeopardy and beyond and several key scenes are heart-stopping.

My Soul To Take is yet another fine young adult novel with tremendous appeal, intelligence, engaging characters and a good premise a little off the beaten path. I think readers of all ages will enjoy this series. My Soul To Take releases August 1, 2009. Rachel Vincent will be guest posting here on July 29 to tell us more about the book and the series. She will also be visiting on July 1 to talk about her next Shifters book Prey. Be sure to join us then.

Harlequin Teen
Published: August 01, 2009
ISBN #: 9780373210039
Format: Trade Paperback
Age Range: Young Adult
Pages: 282

Read an excerpt of Chapter 1.

Soul Screamers YA Series:

  1. My Soul to Take (August 1, 2009)
  2. My Soul To Save (2010)
  3. My Soul To Keep (2010)

Shifters Series:

  1. Stray (2007)
  2. Rogue (2008)
  3. Pride (2009)
  4. Prey (July 1, 2009)
  5. Shift (March 2010)
  6. Untitled (Fall 2010)