Monday, January 30, 2012

Review (Science Fiction) | Horizon by Sophie Littlefield

Cass Dollar is a survivor. She's overcome the meltdown of civilization, humans turned mindless cannibals, and the many evils of man. 

But from beneath the devastated California landscape emerges a tendril of hope. A mysterious traveler arrives at New Eden with knowledge of a passageway North—a final escape from the increasingly cunning Beaters. Clutching this dream, Cass and many others decamp and follow him into the unknown. 

Journeying down valleys and over barren hills, Cass remains torn between two men. One—her beloved Smoke—is not so innocent as he once was. The other keeps a primal hold on her that feels like Fate itself. And beneath it all, Cass must confront the worst of what's inside her—dark memories from when she was a Beater herself. But she, and all of the other survivors, will fight to the death for the promise of a new horizon….

Horizon is the final book in the Aftertime trilogy, and a most satisfying conclusion it is. The series has been a spiritual, emotional and physical journey for Cass across a post-apocalyptic America landscape that measures up to other similar science fiction classics such as Earth Abides, Alas Babylon, On the Beach and the works of John Wyndham.

In Horizon, once again Cass is uprooted from a safe refuge and forced along with the rest of her new community to seek safety elsewhere. The Beaters are evolving, learning and become an even greater threat. The trail is harrowing and the losses severe. The author imbues the prose with a lovely sense of melancholy that complements the world they now inhabit, yet never allows the main characters to lose hope for finding ultimate safe haven.

Cass is such a vivid protagonist. Flawed with an addiction she constantly fights, fearful of her unknown actions when she was a Beater and how it impacts her deep sense of morality, fearful for and loving of her daughter, torn between her two lovers, Smoke and Dor, and unsettled in reuniting and reconciling with her father. Secondary characters are no less fully developed and represent a realistic cross-section of society.

Horizon shows the best and worst of us but ultimately reminds us what it means to be human. Take a chance on this exhilarating adventure. You won't be disappointed.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373803422
  • Publisher: Luna
  • Publication date: 1/24/2012
  • Pages: 400
  • Series: Aftertime #3

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Popcorn Sofa | February Movies

Just an update to an earlier Popcorn Sofa post and poll asking what genre movies you most wanted to see this year and the results for the Top Five were -
  1. The Hobbit
  2. The Hunger Games
  3. The Dark Knight Rises
  4. The Avengers
  5. Men in Black 3
Apparently nobody wants to see Dredd.

Featured Trailer:
Here is the first trailer for the science fiction action thriller Lockout starring Guy Pearce coming to theatres April 20. Is Guy's character the new Snake Plissken?

February Releases:

February 3 - Chronicle. Crazy teenagers + superpowers.

February 10 - Journey 2: Mysterious Island. The Rock, Michael Caine plus 3D derived from Jules Verne. What more can you say.

February 10: Perfect Sense. Ewan McGregor and end of the world scenario. Apparently there's lots of sex.

February 17: Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance. I'm sorry but did anyone actually see Ghost Rider 1? Why is there a 2?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Vampire Commercial

OK I came across this hilarious Audi automobile vampire commercial and had to share. Yep you read that right. Audi + vampires.

The Walking Dead | Returns Soon

Mark February 12 on your calendars. That's the return date for the second half of the season for The Walking Dead. Any fans out there?

Giveaway Winner | Cinder (Audiobook)

The randomly selected winner of a copy of the YA audiobook of Cinder by Marissa Meyer is-

Sara Chamama 

Many thanks again to the publisher, Macmillan Audio and to all those that entered and spread the word.

Friday, January 27, 2012

DVD Giveaway - A&E Ice Age | Ancient Aliens

Have you wondered about the strange winter weather we have been subject to the last few years? Could it be aliens? Maybe A and E has the answers. They have generously offered two DVD releases from its catalog for giveaway - the History Channel series Frozen World: The Story of the Ice Age and Ancient Aliens: Season 3. If you are like me, you'll find these speculative documentaries interesting and entertaining. Fill out the form at the end of the post to enter.

This special collection features four specials, each examining a different aspect of the Ice Age. It s a remarkable journey from the primitive man who inhabited the planet to a volcanic eruption and its devastating impact, to a fascinating look at a changing world and the cost of survival, to an exploration into the possibilities of another Ice Age.

We start with Clash of the Cavemen, which compares the Neanderthals with the Cro-Magnons and follows them through a bone-chilling Ice Age winter, ending with the extinction of one species. Next, Volcanic Winter goes back 75,000 years to trace the impact of a volcanic eruption how it may have pushed the planet into an ice age and how it could have brought humanity to the edge of extinction. Then, take a Journey to 10,000 BC for the real story of life on earth during that time to unravel the geologic mystery surrounding the first environmental crisis faced by man. And finally, Mega Freeze asks if an Ice Age could happen again and if, in fact, it may already be too late to prevent a global disaster.

DISC 1: Clash of the Cavemen / Volcanic Winter
DISC 2: Journey to 10,000 BC / Mega Freeze

Another season of alien intervention belongs to HISTORY. ANCIENT ALIENS continues to examine 75 million years of the most credible alien evidence here on Earth. SEASON 3 explores new directions, including sightings and phenomena from ancient times to the present. From the age of dinosaurs to ancient Egypt, from early cave drawings to continued mass sightings in the U.S., each episode gives historic depth to the questions, speculations, controversies, firsthand accounts and grounded theories surrounding an age-old debate. Did intelligent life forms from outer space visit Earth thousands of years ago? Do they visit us now? HISTORY ignites the inquiry while exploring possible connections between UFO phenomena and information decoded from ancient texts and artifacts.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review (Paranormal Romance) - Lothaire by Kresley Cole

Driven by his insatiable need for revenge, Lothaire, the Lore’s most ruthless vampire, plots to seize the Horde’s crown. But bloodlust and torture have left him on the brink of madness—until he finds Elizabeth Peirce, the key to his victory. He captures the unique young mortal, intending to offer up her very soul in exchange for power, yet Elizabeth soothes his tormented mind and awakens within him emotions Lothaire believed he could no longer experience. 

Growing up in desperate poverty, Ellie Peirce yearned for a better life, never imagining she’d be convicted of murder—or that an evil immortal would abduct her from death row. But Lothaire is no savior, as he himself plans to sacrifice Ellie in one month’s time. And yet the vampire seems to ache for her touch, showering her with wealth and sexual pleasure. In a bid to save her soul, Ellie surrenders her body to the wicked vampire, while vowing to protect her heart. 

Elizabeth tempts Lothaire beyond reason, as only his fated mate could. As the month draws to a close, he must choose between a millennia-old blood vendetta and his irresistible prisoner. Will Lothaire succumb to the miseries of his past . . . or risk everything for a future with her?

Lothaire is the twelfth installment in Kresley Cole's popular Immortals After Dark series of paranormal romances. Two very unlikely characters play the central roles of potential lovers and mates - Ellie a human who is possessed by a death demon and is on death row as a result of the creatures actions and Lothaire, the most feared vampire in the history of the Lore (the supernatural  community).  This combination raised a reading challenge for me - how can they possibly find common ground, establish a relationship and more. As I discovered, the author was very much up to the task.

Ellie is the ultimate underdog, starting the tale completely screwed with virtually no control over her life. Lothaire knows her to be his blooded mate (in Lore vampire tradition their meeting restarted his heart and desire) but chooses to believe it is the death goddess who inhabits her body. Ellie is exceedingly resourceful and makes the best of her limited options. Her inner dialogue is insightful and revealing of a deeply caring and intelligent person irrespective of her humble origins. Ellie is the reason to read Lothaire, compelling and believable. fresh and new.

Lothaire on the other hand is not quite Ellie's equal as the ultimate bad boy, exhibiting a lesser range of emotion and self-awareness, but having said that sufficient motivation is provided to fill out his character as a suitable counterpoint to Ellie. As one of the longest-lived Lore creatures, fans of the series will appreciate his many memory recollections that expand on the Lore world with many familiar characters on stage. His early life and many of the trials and tribulations he suffered are well illustrated generating a surprising amount of empathy for a character I felt early on was irredeemable.

Interestingly enough, one of the strongest scenes in the novel comes from a meeting Lothaire has with Nix (the crazy Valkyrie oracle) which leads to an epiphany about his love/hate relationship with her. I also loved the usual seemingly absurd vignettes that bring a delightful element of humour to the story;  the author combines characters such as an Elven oracle, with Ellie (possessed human) and a half-demon and humanizes them in a totally normal seeming situation which contrasts with their usual  supernatural origins and behaviours. Oh yes, and every scene at Valkyrie Hall is a hoot.

Lothaire is a welcome addition to one of the best-written series in paranormal romance with hours of entertaining reading. Readers unfamiliar with the series can start in with Lothaire, but may miss some of the nuances with  references to previous stories and characters. A handy glossary is provided in preface to the book which is handy and I wish more authors/publishers would include such material in series novels.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439136829
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • Publication date: 1/10/2012
  • Pages: 468
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Series: Immortals After Dark Series (#12)

Read an excerpt here.

Giveaway Winner for Cinder by Marissa Meyer

And the winner is ...

Zee - A Voracious Reader

Congratulations. AN email has been sent your way to collect your info. Thanks to everyone that entered and shared about the giveaway.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cover vs Poster

While looking at the cover for Horizon by Sophie Littlefield over at All Things Urban Fantasy, I was struck by a similarity to another iconic image - Mel Gibson as Mad Max. What  do you think - did one inspire the other?  After all they are both post-apocalyptic series.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Popcorn Sofa

Being Human (UK) Season 4 Trailer
Hard to believe that Being Human is about to start its fourth season in the UK with the 2nd season of the US version also having just launched. Excellent urban fantasy with all of the supernatural elements and world-building you've come to expect from the genre.

Today's feature film trailer selection is from one of my favourite film franchises - Resident Evil. Resident Evil: Retribution will be in theatres this fall.

2012 Science Fiction and Fantasy Movie Poll

I thought it might be interesting to get a sense of what SciFiGuy readers are planning to see in the way of genre flicks this season. The list below is not meant to be complete and in particular does not contain remakes. If you know of an interesting genre flick that has been overlooked, be sure to leave a note in the Comments. If you want to know more about a picture, click the link, which leads to the Internet Movie Database.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fantasy Review - Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted.

Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people.

As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life.... 

Touch of Power is the debut in a new YA fantasy series and I wanted to like it as I am normally a booster of most things written by Maria V. Snyder. And superficially I did.  It's an adventure that moves along well. An engaging lead character, a band of stalwart companions and a plethora of villains. But...  I had difficulty getting past the magical premise of Avry, a healer who takes on her patients illness/injury in order to heal them. Albeit she herself heals fast but not that fast. I know I am applying too much logic but really? Suffering mortal wounds, unimaginable levels of pain, significantly limited in the number of patients you can treat?  As a regular profession, I am not sure even a Mother Theresa would take this on as an acceptable destiny. This kind of magical healer in society would only be the one of last resort. Totally impractical.

If you can buy into the way Avry uses her abilities then the rest of the story flows easily enough. There are some interesting magical skills introduced through various characters, the ongoing banter between Avry and pretty much anyone else is fresh and entertaining. I found the world-building only so-so with a mostly stock feudal society and the usual scattering of kingdoms. The core quest, in this case a search for and curing of a Prince, at the eventual cost of the healers life played out with a few twists but the ultimate outcome was pretty much predictable.

Overall Touch of Power is a respectable quest adventure, if you don't share my reservations. I would more strongly recommend Snyder's Study or Glass series to readers new and interested in this writer.

Product Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780778313076 
  • Publisher: Harlequin 
  • Publication date: 12/20/2011 
  • Pages: 400 
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Series: Healer #1

Read an excerpt here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Musings

Another week and I am still blogging and quite happy with the level of postings here so far this month. 2012 is off to a good start. I'll have a review of Touch of Power which is the start of a new fantasy series by Maria V. Snyder tomorrow. I am currently reading Lothaire by Kresley Cole and expect to have a review ready next week.

Here are a few items of interest that passed through my virtual In Box this week:

Many of you may be familiar with the historical vampire fiction of author Chelsea Quinn Yarbro.  If not I recommend you try out her first novel in her long-running Saint Germaine series, In other news, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA that has recently been released as an e-book from E-Reads (E-Reads previously released THE PALACE and BLOOD GAMES). Also Yarbro's HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA (1978) was just nominated for the Horror Writer Association's Bram Stoker Vampire Novel of the Century Award. The winner will be announced in late March. News on all of the award nominees can be read at SFScope.

And finally here is a preview of the cover for the 25th, yes 25th novel in the series, Commedia Della Morte due for release March 12.
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's modern classic,Hotel Transylvania, introduced the Count Saint-Germain and his beloved, Madelaine de Montalia. The Count is one of the most critically acclaimed vampire characters ever created, with dedicated fans who have followed his adventures through more than twenty novels, dozens of short stories, and thousands of years of human history. But of all the women the Count has loved, the most popular is the beautiful, ever-youthful Madelaine.

In Commedia della Morte, Saint-Germain learns that Madelaine—now a vampire—has been arrested by France's Revolutionary Tribunal and is soon to lose her head. Desperate to rescue her, the Count sneaks into France with a troupe of actors led by the glamorous Photine, who soon becomes Saint-Germain's mistress. Photine's teenage son, driven by jealousy and revolutionary fervor, betrays the Count. Now Saint-Germain's life, as well as Madelaine's, hangs in the balance, in this darkly romantic historical vampire novel.
Fans of the X-Files show and Hollywood biographies may be interested in this ECW Press release,   Where There’s Smoke: Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man, a memoir from Canadian actor, director, and producer William B. Davis detailing the ups and downs of his career, and the incredible impact the X-Files world has had on his life. Find out more about the book here.

C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp writing as Cat Adams provided a sneak preview of the cover for The Eldritch Conspiracy, the 5th book in the excellent Blood Singer series and the 4th book, The Isis Collar isn't even out until March! I have to say I like this cover. Blondes do have more fun.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Audio Book Giveaway - Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Thanks to the generous folks at Macmillan Audio, I have a copy of the audiobook of the new YA science fictional fairy tale Cinder by Marissa Meyer to giveaway. You can also enter the contest for a hardcopy of the book here.

Chapter 1 Excerpt

A wicked mash-up of fairy tale and Terminator—set in a Star Wars kind of world—Marissa Meyer's Cinder is a fresh and fiercely ingenious futuristic retelling of Cinderella.

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Urban Fantasy Freebie - A Fog of Fury by Jon F. Merz

Jon F. Merz, urban fantasy author of the Lawson Vampire series has advised me that his novella, A Fog of Fury, from the series is available for free, in a Kindle edition for two days only - today and tomorrow.
Great reading for fans of thrillers and mysteries and of course - vampires!

A Fog of Fury is a special novella in my popular Lawson Vampire series that reunites the Fixer Lawson with Jack the Invoker. When the death of a prominent vampire on the Maine coast leads to a community squabble, Lawson is dispatched to mediate. What he and Jack find instead may be a whole lot more sinister than they imagined...and part of a puzzle that has been plaguing Lawson for years. 

This ebook is normally priced at $2.99

Monday, January 16, 2012

Giveaway - Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Tons of book blog buzz about Cinder, a YA science fictional fairy tale and I happen to have a copy to give away to one lucky winner to be selected randomly at the end of the contest. Entries close January 25. Marissa is participating in both a blog and bookstore tour and you can find the locations and dates on her blog. You can read the first five chapters here.

JUST ADDED: You can also enter a contest to win an audiobook version of Cinder. Click here.
Chapter 1 Audiobook Excerpt

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Fantasy Review - Cast in Ruin by Michelle Sagara

Seven corpses are discovered in the streets of a Dragon’s fief. All identical, down to their clothing. 

Kaylin Neya is assigned to discover who they were, who killed them–and why. Is the evil lurking at the borders of Elantra preparing to cross over? 

At least the investigation delays her meeting with the Dragon Emperor. And as the shadows grow longer over the fiefs, Kaylin must use every skill she’s ever learned to save the people she’s sworn to protect. Sword in hand, dragons in sky, this time there’s no retreat and no surrender….

This delightful fantasy series follows the career of Kaylin Neya, a Hawk in the City of Elantra. Hawks are essentially police, but uphold the laws of the Emperor, who is a dragon. There are several different races, mortal and immortal, all living together but each with their own distinct cultures and foibles. There is magic. Kaylin has it but doesn't like it. She is also a Lord, has a Name and is known as The Chosen and has a dragon as a mentor.

An orphan from a very difficult life on the streets, all Kaylin wants to do is belong. Kaylin has grown and matured over the course of the series. She is impulsive, smart and intuitive and strongly self-aware. Her wry observations of her fellow hawks and the other races are laced with humour and the occasional snark. Followers of the series will appreciate, as I do, the burgeoning acknowledgement of her love for her partner Severn as they finally begin to express themselves on the subject.

As with most of the books, Cast in Ruin picks a race as the focus of the main narrative and this time it is the dragons. Little by little, Kaylin learns many of the closely guarded secrets and history of the race as she pushes forward to solve the mystery of the identical corpses. Answers are found , a layer at time, each with new and powerful implications. Never predictable and always fascinating the story delivers yet another captivating adventure.

If you are searching for a rich and rewarding fantasy read different from the usual fantasy fare, then you can't go wrong with Cast in Ruin and the Chonicles of Elantra series. Heartily recommended.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373803309
  • Publisher: Luna
  • Publication date: 9/20/2011
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 464
  • Series : Chronicles of Elantra #7 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Books Received

A diversity of titles were received this week, all from Tor Books including the science fiction novel Tribulations by Ken Shuffeldt, two fantasy novels; the Well-Tempered Clavicle a new Xanth novel from Piers Anthony and Territory by Emma Bull, a re-release of a critically acclaimed but long out-of-print American west fantasy. Also received was Immortal Hope by Claire Ashgrove, a paranormal romance.

The highlight of the group is Territory (cover quote from Neil Gaiman by the way). I have included an interview with Emma Bull which gives some insight into the novels origins. You'll find it at the end of the post.

Wyatt Earp. Doc Holliday. Ike Clanton.
You think you know the story. You don’t.

Tombstone, Arizona in 1881 is the site of one of the richest mineral strikes in American history, where veins of silver run like ley lines under the earth, a network of power that belongs to anyone who knows how to claim and defend it.

Above the ground, power is also about allegiances. A magician can drain his friends' strength to strengthen himself, and can place them between him and danger. The one with the most friends stands to win the territory.

Jesse Fox left his Eastern college education to travel West, where he’s made some decidedly odd friends, like the physician Chow Lung, who insists that Jesse has a talent for magic. In Tombstone, Jesse meets the tubercular Doc Holliday, whose inner magic is as suppressed as his own, but whose power is enough to attract the sorcerous attention of Wyatt Earp.

Mildred Benjamin is a young widow making her living as a newspaper typesetter, and--unbeknownst to the other ladies of Tombstone--selling tales of Western derring-do to the magazines back East. Like Jesse, Mildred has episodes of seeing things that can’t possibly be there.

When a failed stage holdup results in two dead, Tombstone explodes with speculation about who attempted the robbery. The truth could destroy Earp's plans for wealth and glory, and he'll do anything to bury it. Meanwhile, outlaw leader John Ringo wants the same turf as Earp. Each courts Jesse as an ally, and tries to isolate him by endangering his friends, as they struggle for magical dominance of the territory.

Events are building toward the shootout of which you may have heard. But you haven't heard the whole, secret story until you've read Emma Bull's unique take on an American legend, in which absolutely nothing is as it seems...

Product Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780765330192
  • Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
  • Publication date: 12/6/2011
  • Pages: 320
For an animated skeleton, kept alive by the magic of Xanth, Picka Bones has lived a fairly uneventful life. The high points of his day consist of patrolling graveyards with his sister, Joy'nt, and picking out tunes on his ribs with his own collar bones. All that changes, however, when three curious creatures challenge Picka to discover what magical talent he might possess by seeking out the enchanted princesses Dawn and Eve.

But Princess Eve has gone to Hades, and Princess Dawn has troubles of her own. At the ripe age of twenty-one, she is still unmarried, having failed to find a suitable prince who is not intimidated by her power and beauty.

When Picka, Joy'nt, Eve and the three musical pets ask the good magician Humfrey for answers to their perplexing problems, he responds by dispatching them on a daring mission—to locate and tame Caprice Castle, a feral palace so errant that even Humfrey can't determine its whereabouts and legend has it that the Castle contains the fabled Pundora's Box, which once contained the worst puns in Xanth, until they were carelessly released a century before.

A wild and madcap romp overflowing with mirth and magic, passion and peril, WELL-TEMPERED CLAVICLE will thrill and delight both newcomers to Xanth and dedicated fans—no bones about it!

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765331342
  • Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
  • Publication date: 11/22/2011
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Series: Magic of Xanth Series #35

The world has ended…. The war is only beginning.

An asteroid storm has obliterated the Earth. Billy and Linda West have built enough space-going arks to save a small number of people who now roam the void in search of a new home. 

Desperate to find a safe haven, Billy makes a dangerous attempt to exceed the speed of light. When his plans go terribly wrong, the Wests’ severely-damaged ship is separated from the fleet and left drifting near a mysterious planet.

This world’s conditions are hospitable—but its inhabitants are not. Suddenly the Wests and their fellow survivors are caught in the middle of an ancient war between two brutal nations. Faced with horrific dangers, they are forced to choose a side just to survive.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765365583
  • Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
  • Publication date: 1/3/2012
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 375
Centuries ago, Templar knights defied the archangels and unearthed the copper scroll that revealed the locations of the gates to hell. Cursed for their forbidden act, they now roam the earth, protecting mankind from evil. But darkness stalks them, and battles they fight bring them ever closer to eternal damnation. One promise remains to give them salvation—the return of the seraphs.

Embittered by his purpose, Merrick du Loire must honor an ancient pact and bring peace to his cousin’s soul, releasing him from the clutches of their enemy. When he stumbles upon history professor Anne MacPherson, he discovers that she possesses a sacred artifact that marks her as a seraph. Duty demands he set aside his personal quest and locate the knight she’s fated to heal. As Merrick struggles with conflicting oaths, Anne arouses buried hope and sparks forbidden desire that challenges everything he’s sworn to uphold.

Anne has six weeks to complete her thesis on the Knights Templar. When Merrick takes her to the Templar stronghold, he presents her with all she needs—and awakens a soul-deep ache that he alone can soothe. Yet loving Merrick comes with a price. If she admits she is destined for him, her gift of foresight predicts his death.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765367587
  • Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
  • Publication date: 1/3/2012
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 355

Emma Bull On Writing TERRITORY

1. How many years did it take to write Territory? Or, how long did you think about writing it?

TERRITORY was about ten years in the making, more or less. It's hard to say, since over that time it had at least three incarnations: the Western-with-magic romp, the grim-and-gritty depressing version that caused my writers' group to shake their heads and ask if I needed more chocolate or something, and the version that finally became TERRITORY and its sequel.

There's nothing left in there of the first two attempts, I think—the characters even had different names—but in each case I wrote a third of a novel before I realized I wasn't having fun. Which means I wrote two-thirds of a novel before I finally figured out what I was up to with this one. It doesn't quite account for the ten years, I know, but still...

I can't entirely regret taking that long on it; over the course of those years I had access to a constantly-growing pool of historical scholarship on Tombstone, Cochise County, Arizona, and the American West. Much of the stuff that got into the novel I really couldn't have known when I started.

2. What inspired you to write TERRITORY?
It's Steven Brust's fault. In 1993 he saw a newly-released movie, came home, called Will (Shetterly) and me, and said, "You have to see this. I want to see it again. Come on, we're going to the movies." It was TOMBSTONE, written by Kevin Jarre and starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer. We were all scarred for life—well, Steve and I were. (Steve will still sometimes answer the phone with "I'm your huckleberry.") Will is made of slightly sterner stuff.

But we were all fascinated by this cool epic story. TOMBSTONE was one of the first film versions to try to depict the O.K. Corral gunfight with some of the complexity and moral ambiguity attached to it at the time. Historically, the movie's a mixed bag, but it does a lot of things right—enough to make you walk out of the theater asking your friends, "Do you know if it really happened that way?" So, as writers do when they're fascinated, we each started reading about Tombstone's history.

That prompted the late John M. Ford to lend me his copy of Paula Mitchell Marks's AND DIE IN THE WEST, which is an excellent place to start reading about what I call "The Matter of Tombstone." It lacks some information that's been uncovered since the last edition, and contains a few things that have been disproved, likewise, but it's still a splendid overview and a darned good read.

Will was the first of us to use the research in fiction, when he wrote "Taken He Cannot Be," which was published in THE IMMORTAL UNICORN anthology. I love that story. I started in on what would become TERRITORY. Steve, as far as I know, still hasn't written a Tombstone story. But the influences are probably buried in something else. I should ask him.

3. How did you research for it? Have you always had an interest in Western history?
I grew up in the generation that got three prime-time television westerns every night of the week except maybe Sunday. I had cowboy boots, and a cowboy hat, and I'm still negotiating with my big brother over possession of the Hubley cap pistols with the engraved nickle finish and the fake turquoise grips that were in the toy box. But none of that was exactly Western culture. It was Hollywood culture.

Original Edition
Except... That's the funny thing about the Myth of the West. People started turning the American West into myth, into story and legend, as soon as they found out it existed, pretty much. The West was being mythologized long before the frontier closed. So the Hollywood West is based on the Old West of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which was a set of stories that were contemporary with the events they were mythologizing, and affected the behavior of people like Wyatt Earp and James Butler Hickok and William Cody, which in turn came back around and affected the myth... Okay, I'm off topic, and I could go on for days, but you get the picture. I grew up with the fiction of the West, that wasn't entirely fiction.

I would have said, in 1992, that I wasn't any more interested in Western American history than I was in any other sort. I was still known as the go-to girl for rock 'n' roll elves, in fact. But obviously, there's something in the back of my little brain that was just waiting for this, for me to come back to the landscape of the West and those myths that played a huge part in defining what North America is.

So how did I research? As soon as I got serious about it, I was hip-deep in material. It was such a contrast to the last historical fantasy I did, FREEDOM AND NECESSITY, the collaboration with Steven Brust. We set that in 1849, which is a relatively empty spot on the historical map — the revolutions of 1848 are over, Victoria's reign hasn't really hit its stride yet, It's a between-point in fashion, culture, all the things a writer uses for local color. So it was hard to fill in the cool stuff in that book.

But 1881 in southern Arizona is a major hotspot, historically speaking. It's a pivot point for so many conflicts: North vs. South, Republican vs. Democrat, town vs. country, mining vs. ranching... You get the idea. So the available scholarship is glorious. Contentious, mind you, but all the better for a novelist's purpose. The more conflict there is between versions of the story and sides in the argument, the more fun a fiction writer can have finding ways that both are true, or neither. And a fantasy novelist? Perfect source material. And it's great history. There's things I'm sure people will assume I made up, that are unaltered history. I had a ball.

I'm considering putting a bibliography at the end of the second book. There are street maps available of 1881 Tombstone, books that list the town's businesses and where they were located, competing biographies, geological studies. There's TRUE WEST Magazine, which I adore, because it simultaneously celebrates the story of the West and myth-busts the heck out of it, in addition to publishing newly-discovered photos of people and places, blow-by-blows of famous gunfights, and contemporary Western lifestyle stuff.

But for me, the very best source for a lot of things is the town of Tombstone itself, and the surrounding face of Cochise County. Tombstone has changed a lot since 1881--its revenue is almost entirely from tourism, I think, so it couldn't help but get a certain layer of amusement park on it--but it's still Tombstone. Allen Street is still the same street these people walked down every day. The view at the end of town is of the same hills. There's an amazing magic to it that I find irresistible.

4. While researching or writing the book, were there any characters that surprised you in their development - or were there any characters for which you really felt sympathetic? 

Oh, Doc Holliday steals anything he shows up in. The movie TOMBSTONE, Costner's WYATT EARP (which doesn't properly start until Dennis Quaid as Doc Holliday appears), now TERRITORY—he's such a good character. He's dying and he knows it, and it kind of reduces the number of things he's afraid of. He's got one true love and one real friend, and that's just not enough.

Chu was a huge surprise. I'll leave it at that.

I feel sympathy for all the characters in this book, including the antagonists. Everyone in the Matter of Tombstone did what they did for good, sometimes even admirable, reasons. They meant to do the right thing. They all found out that in a crisis the right thing isn't necessarily outlined in flashing lights, and that sometimes a series of choices of what you thought were the right things leads straight to the worst possible outcome. Complex and morally ambiguous events and people. Great stuff. I hope I do them justice.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Urban Fantasy Freebie

Thriller and urban fantasy author Joe Nassise advises me that The Heretic, the first volume in his popular Templar Chronicles is free, this weekend only, at Amazon in Kindle edition. Get your copy here. Also in late fall of 2011, Joe launched his newest urban fantasy series Jeremiah Hunt with Eyes to See which is a terrific read..

A former SWAT officer turns modern Templar Knight in this exciting new urban fantasy series for fans of Jim Butcher, Rob Thurman, and Patricia Briggs! A chance encounter with one of the Hellspawn left Cade Williams with certain unique traits, including the ability to walk between the lands of the living and those of the dead. Now, as commander of the Echo Team, the special operations unit within the Templar hierarchy, he has devoted his life to using his "gifts" to protect mankind from the things that lurk in the darkness. 

When a Templar commandery is invaded and its occupants mercilessly slaughtered, Knight Commander Williams is called in to hunt down those responsible. His investigation quickly leads him to a cabal of necromancers known as the Council of Nine. 

There's only one problem. 

The necromancers are allied with the same supernatural creature that left Cade for dead five years before. A creature so powerful that the Templars know it only as the Adversary. 

In order to stop the killing, Cade will be forced to face his own personal demons. Not just those deep inside his heart, but also the one that left him scarred, body and soul. 

The same demon that has already beaten him once before...

Great idea for Driday the 13th!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Forthcoming YA - Tempest by Julie Cross

Time travel stories are one of my favourite science fiction tropes and it sure sounds like Tempest, the forthcoming YA novel from Julie Cross has it in spades. How do you feel about time travel or do the paradoxes drive you crazy? The book releases next week, January 17.

The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps– it’s just harmless fun. 

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future. Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities. 

But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler. Recruit… or kill him. 

Read the first 4 chapters of Tempest on the Facebook Fan Page.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Urban Fantasy Review - Raven Cursed by Faith Hunter

Jane Yellowrock is a shape-shifting skinwalker and vampire hunter for hire. But lately instead of just slaying vampires, she’s been working for them.

The vampires of Asheville, North Carolina, want to establish their own clan, but since they owe loyalty to the Master Vampire of New Orleans they must work out the terms with him. To come up with an equitable solution, he sends an envoy with the best bodyguard blood money can buy: skinwalker Jane Yellowrock.

But when a group of local campers are attacked by something fanged, Jane goes from escort to investigator. Is it a rogue-vampire, shapechanger, or witch? Or something else magical? Unless she wants to face a very angry master vampire, she will have to work overtime to find the killer. It’s a good thing she’s worth every penny.


Raven Cursed is the fourth installment of the Jane Yellowrock urban fantasy series and continues to deliver high-octane action combined with the entertaining smart wit and self-deprecation of Jane. Set in the Appalachian area of Jane's roots this is a less "urban" adventure then in the past. Jane juggles a lot of responsibilities searching for a mysterious supernatural killer, managing a parlay between vampires and trying to maintain important friendships. She endures a fair bit if hardship. The pacing never flags and the story delivers sufficient twists and turns for any thriller/adventure fan.

As with many series it helps to have read previous novels, but I believe Raven Cursed provides sufficient background to cover earlier events. The novel wraps up a number of plot threads from Mercy Blade (#3) and ends on a high note setting the stage for new and exciting opportunities for Jane. No cliffhangers. The Jane Yellowrock character is one of the most memorable and well defined heroines in urban fantasy and I heartily recommend this book and series to UF readers.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451464330
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 1/3/2012
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • Series: Jane Yellowrock #4
 Read an excerpt.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Review - Thread of Death by Jennifer Estep

If you have not read any of the books in the Elemental Assassin series, note that the description for Thread of Death contains spoilers. If you have read some but not all, I am sure the revelations won't come as any surprise.

Book Description:  
Gin Blanco, aka the assassin the Spider, might have finally killed her nemesis, Mab Monroe, but that doesn’t mean that it’s smooth sailing. Gin goes to Mab’s funeral to say her goodbyes and runs into some of Ashland’s most notorious underworld power players, including Jonah McAllister and Phillip Kincaid. McAllister wants her dead, and Kincaid has his own murky motives when it comes to the Spider, and Gin once again finds herself fighting for her life. Only this time, she might wind up in the cemetery right next to Mab.

My Comments:

Thread of Death is a novella that follows immediately after the end of Spider's Revenge (Book 5). Gin Blanco is one of urban fantasies more potent action heroes. Estep writes excellent action sequences of which there are no shortage even in this brief novella. Despite good intentions trouble seems to find Gin even at a funeral.

The story is a setup piece to illustrate the consequences of Gin's success at defeating and killing Mab. Surviving players in Ashland's criminal underground are identified and intentions revealed, setting the stage for forthcoming novels. Although a quick read, Thread of Death doesn't disappoint and fans of the series will want to know what comes next. Gin's character has a distinct voice and I particularly liked how her inner dialogue played out over her thoughts on paying respect to her former nemesis. It was also gratifying to see Gin's increasing willingness to use her elemental magic which further enhances the lively action.

Thread of Death releases January 31 as an ebook for $1.99. Hopefully sometime in the future it may make an appearance in a collection or anthology so that us hard copy book collectors can add it to our libraries. The next full-length book in the series, By a Thread releases in March.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Popcorn Sofa - Sunday at the Movies

Once a month I am going to post trailers and info on genre films coming out in the next month or so. If you hear of something interesting, please let me know and I'll post in the next Popcorn Sofa.

Ridley Scott returns to directing science fiction this year with the release of an Alien prequel called Prometheus. Coming this June.


January 13:  The Divide, a post apocalyptic thriller.

January 20: Kate Beckinsdale, who has never looked so good, returns in Underworld Awakening. This may be as good or better than the original.

February 2: In the Chronicle, three teens with superpowers show their darker side.

Already in Theatres: The Darkest Hour is one of those alien invasion movies that I just can't resist.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Saturday Morning Ramblings

A YA paranormal music video to get the blood flowing on this Winter weekend morning, From Lucienne Diver's Vamped series... the third book in the series Fangtastic releases tomorrow.

And still on the YA theme , here is the book trailer for a new YA series. Cinder: Book One in The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Even in the future, the story begins with Once Upon a Time…. Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth's fate hinges on one girl. . . . Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She's a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world's future.

Not much time to read this week, but I am a little over halfway through Raven Cursed by Faith Hunter, the 4th Jane Yellowrock novel.  I'll have a review of this next week. Any Jane Yellowrock fans out there? This has become a series that I now eagerly anticipate a new release.

I am also writing up my review of A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison, the 10th Hollows novel which I read just prior to Christmas. It releases in February so save your pennies. It's worth the wait. Read the first chapter here.

Two Great Urban Fantasy Heroines
I found this Onion Network spoof interview of George R.R. Martin and his progress with the Ice and Fire series spot on.

In celebration of Isaac Asimov’s birthday this past Monday (designated as National Science Fiction Day) and J. R. R. Tolkien’s Tuesday, celebrated science fiction words and language all week. Here is a Word Soup special installment of some of their favorite words from and about science fiction television shows. Click here to visit.


The time is 1882. With the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and the battle with the thing that used to be Johnny Ringo behind him (see The Buntline Special), the consumptive Doc Holliday makes his way to Deadwood, Colorado, with Kate Elder, where he plans to spend the rest ofhis brief life, finally moving into the luxurious facility that specializes in his disease.

But one night he gets a little too drunk—hardly a novelty for him—and loses everything he has at the gaming table. He realizes that he needs to replenish his bankroll, and quickly, so that he can live out his days in comfort under medical care. He considers his options and hits upon the one most likely to produce income in a hurry: he’ll use his skill as a shootist and turn bounty hunter. The biggest reward is for the death of the young, twenty-year-old desperado known as Billy the Kid.

It’s clear from the odds the Kid has faced and beaten, his miraculous escape from prison, and his friendship with the Indian tribes of New Mexico that he is Protected by some powerful magic. Doc enlists the aid of both magic (Geronimo) and science (Thomas Edison), and goes out after his quarry. He will hunt the Kid down, and either kill him and claim the reward or die in the process and at least end his own suffering.

But as he is soon to find out, nothing is as easy as it looks.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616145378
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 12/20/2011
  • Pages: 320
  • Series: Wild West #2

Thursday, January 5, 2012

More Dune ! Sisterhood of Dune

Dune enthusiasts will be interested in the newest installment in the Dune saga, Sisterhood of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson which just released this week from Tor Books. This is the first book in a new trilogy going back to the formation of the Dune Universe.

SUMMARY: It is eighty-three years after the last of the thinking machines were destroyed in the Battle of Corrin, after Faykan Butler took the name of Corrino and established himself as the first Emperor of a new Imperium. Great changes are brewing that will shape and twist all of humankind.

The war hero Vorian Atreides has turned his back on politics and Salusa Secundus. The descendants of Abulurd Harkonnen Griffen and Valya have sworn vengeance against Vor, blaming him for the downfall of their fortunes. Raquella Berto-Anirul has formed the Bene Gesserit School on the jungle planet Rossak as the first Reverend Mother. The descendants of Aurelius Venport and Norma Cenva have built Venport Holdings, using mutated, spice-saturated Navigators who fly precursors of Heighliners. Gilbertus Albans, the ward of the hated Erasmus, is teaching humans to become Mentats…and hiding an unbelievable secret.

The Butlerian movement, rabidly opposed to all forms of “dangerous technology,” is led by Manford Torondo and his devoted Swordmaster, Anari Idaho. And it is this group, so many decades after the defeat of the thinking machines, which begins to sweep across the known universe in mobs, millions strong, destroying everything in its path. Every one of these characters, and all of these groups, will become enmeshed in the contest between Reason and Faith. All of them will be forced to choose sides in the inevitable crusade that could destroy humankind forever….

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Review - Dark Descendant by Jenna Black

SUMMARY: From the acclaimed author of the Morgan Kingsley, Exorcist books comes the gripping first novel in a new series about a private eye who discovers, to her surprise, that she’s an immortal huntress.

Nikki Glass can track down any man. But when her latest client turns out to be a true descendant of Hades, Nikki now discovers she can’t die. . . . Crazy as it sounds, Nikki’s manhunting skills are literally god-given. She’s a living, breathing descendant of Artemis who has stepped right into a trap set by the children of the gods. Nikki’s new “friends” include a descendant of Eros, who uses sex as a weapon; a descendant of Loki, whose tricks are no laughing matter; and a half-mad descendant of Kali who thinks she’s a spy. But most powerful of all are the Olympians, a rival clan of immortals seeking to destroy all Descendants who refuse to bow down to them. In the eternal battle of good god/bad god, Nikki would make a divine weapon. But if they think she’ll surrender without a fight, the gods must be crazy. . .

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451606799
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 4/26/2011
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • Series: Descendant Series, #1
First in a new series, this low-key urban fantasy offering introduces Nikki Glass a PI that stumbles upon a familiar theme - the hidden supernatural world - in this case immortal descendants of the various pantheons of gods. The book blurb really isn't reflective of the tone of the story which makes it sound kind of madcap. It isn't. It is however thoughtful exploring themes of friendship, anger and revenge. The immortals premise is well-thought out and fresh. Nikki is smart, level-headed and interesting. No edgy, quipping, leather clad, tramp stamped heroine here. It makes for an enjoyable read with some glimmers of potential romance in future installments. Some interesting explorations of what death means to an immortal. All around a solid debut in a promising new series.

One last comment regarding the writing style which thankfully is pretty much free of stock phrases and cliches EXCEPT for when Nikki reflects that she needs to put on her "big girl panties".  Not to pick on Jenna but all UF/Paranormal writers, please retire this horrible phrase which serves only to lower the tone.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2011 Reading: The Year in Review

Lots of terrific books on the docket last year from old pros and newbies alike. In particular, the trend continued for regular adult fiction writers branching out into Young Adult territory, with many fine new series being started.

In urban fantasy my reading mostly consisted of established writers with a sampling of debuts.  I enjoyed a fair number of Young Adult novels this past year as well as a smattering of fantasy and SF novels (mostly post-apocalyptic) and a few non-genre works as well.

Below is my 2011 reading list of approximately 140 novels most of which were published in the current year with a few from the year before. I've flagged my best picks of the year. If you have a list of your own, leave a comment with a link to your own list or tell us about your favourites. I've commented on a few of the titles, but as you can imagine catching up on a possible years worth of reviews at once is, well, impossible.


Angie Fox
Accidental Demon Slayer Series:
  • #1 The Accidental Demon Slayer 
Comment: Finally got around to reading this recommended series and to my dismay is was a DNF for me. I had a lot of trouble getting a handle on time and place for characters. Conversations seemed to happen in unanchored locations. The dog - not funny.  For a funny dog sidekick check out Jim in McAllister's dragon series or Oberon from Hearne's Druid Chronicles.
C. E. Murphy 
Walker Paper Series:
  • #6 Spirit Dances  
Comment: One of the best Joanna Walker stories yet.  This series continues to mature as Joanna shamanic skills grow.
Carolyn Crane 
Disillusionists Series:
  • #2 Double Cross
Comment:I found the debut novel Mind Games inventive and fresh. Again we have a terrifically entertaining story but this time around (just me) I found the psychology of the characters less approachable.
Carrie Vaughn 
Kitty Norville Series:
  • Kitty's Big Trouble   
Comment: Another entertaining Kitty adventure. Not my favourite. Doesn't move major series story arcs along very much.
Charlaine Harris 
Sookie Stackhouse:
  • #11 Dead Reckoning  
Comment:  Definitely not one of Sookie's better outings. It felt like a placeholder release with a hodgepodge of ideas and events.
Cherie Priest 
Raylene Pendle Series:
  • Hellbent
  • Bloodshot        
Comment: New series from Priest is worth a look. Vampire thief with a heart of gold and an ex-Navy SEAL/drag queen that is one of the more memorable sidekicks in urban fantasy.

Chloe Neill 
Chicagoland Vampires:
  • Friday Night Bites
  • Twice Bitten
  • Hard Bitten     
  • Drink Deep    
Comment: Got caught up on this fab series which is a personal favourite. The vampire culture is fresh and lead vampire character Merit is natural and real.

Christina Henry 
Black Wings Series:
  • #1 Black Wings 
  • #2 Black Night   
Comment: Fresh new series from a debut author. Interesting characters and mythology and terrific actions sequences. 

Christine Warren 
Others Series:
  • Not Your Ordinary Faerie Tale  
Colleen Gleason 
The Regency Draculia:
  • The Vampire Voss
  • The Vampire Dimitri    
  • The Vampire Narcisse    
Comment:  Fans of Gleason's Gardella Vampire Chronicles will enjoy this series. The three books cover the same core events from different character perspectives. Personally I found The Vampire Dmitri to be overly repetitive and the weakest of the three stories. The sisters at the core of the stories are a delight.

Darynda Jones 
  • First Grave on the Right  
  • Second Grave on the Left 
Devon Monk 
Allie Beckstrom Series:
  • #2 Magic in the Blood
  • #3 Magic in the Shadows 
  • #4 Magic on the Storm
  • #5 Magic at the Gate    
  • #6 Magic on the Line       
  • #7 Magic on the Hunt        
Comment:  Got caught up on this serries this year and it has become another personal favourite and my vote for best series of the year. This just keeps getting better and better.

Faith Hunter 
Jane Yellowrock Series:
  • #3 Mercy Blade     
Comment: Jane's an original. Always a pleasure to read this series.
Ilona Andrews 
Kate Daniels Series:
  • #5 Magic Slays   
Comments: One of the most original urban fantasy worlds created. Magic Slays doesn't disappoint.
J. R. Ward 
  • Envy    
  • Lover Unleashed    
Jacqueline Carey 
Santa Olivia Series:
  • Saints Astray      
Comment: A much lighter tone is found in this followup to the terrific Santa Olivia. A different kind of HEA,
Jayne Ann Krentz 
  • Sizzle and Burn    
Jeaniene Frost 
Night Huntress Series:
  • #5 This Side of the Grave
  • #6 One Grave at a Time     
Comment:  A double whammy for fans of Cat and Bones, which of course I am. Oodles of action and memorable characters. 

Jeanne C. Stein 
Anna Strong Chronicles:
  • #7 Crossroads         
Jennifer Estep 
Elemental Assassin Series:
  • Tangled Threads 
  • Spider's Revenge      
Comments: The long-awaited showdown between assassin Gin and mobster Mab. Worth waiting for.  Highly recommended series.
Jeri Smith-Ready 
  • Shade  
  • Shift    
Jim Butcher 
Harry Dresden:
  • Ghost Story     
Comment: Without a doubt the best Dresden to date. Butcher took a chance with this premise and worked superbly. Harry as you have never seen him. Literally. My pick for best urban fantasy of the year. 

Jocelynn Drake 
  • Wait for Dusk    
Kalayna Price 
  • Grave Dance    
Karen Chance 
  • Hunt the Moon    
Karen Marie Moning 
  • Shadowfever    
Comment: Not sure what all the fuss was about.
Kat Richardson 
  • Downpour     
Comment: An excellent installment in the Greywalker series.
Katie MacAlister 
  • Much Ado About Vampires    
Kelly Meding 
  • Another Kind of Dead    
  • As Lie the Dead     
Comment: This series by Kelly from a very promising debut has lived up to and exceeded expectations. An example of what makes urban fantasy fun.
Keri Arthur 
  • Mercy Burns
Kerrelyn Sparks 
  • Eat Prey Love     
  • Sexiest Vampire Alive    
  • Vampire Mine    
Kevin Hearne 
Iron Druid Chronicles:
  • Hounded 
  • Hexed   
  • Hammered    
Comment: One of the freshest new series to be found in 2011. Often laugh-out-loud funny, the Druid is accompanied by one of the best familiar/sidekicks ever - Oberon.

Kim Harrison 
  • Pale Demon    
Kristina Douglas 
  • Raziel 
Larissa Ione 
  • Eternal Rider    
Larry Correia 
  • Monster Hunter Alpha    
  • Monster Hunter International    
  • Monster Hunter Vendetta     
Comment: This series was a new discovery for me and I found it's blend of male action adventure and urban fantasy a lot of fun. 
Laurell K. Hamilton 
  • Hit List   
Comment: The latest installment in this overly tired series offers nothing new. Anita has little to say and what she does say sounds cranky and repetitive. The writing style is barely above pulp standards.
Lauren Dane 
  • Goddess with a Blade  
Lilith Saintcrow 
  • Heaven's Spite   
Comment: Always a treat. Saintcrow's violent femmes never disappoint.
Lynsay Sands 
  • The Reluctant Vampire  
Comment: A guilty pleasure  series with little new to offer.
MaryJanice Davidson 
  • Undead and Unfinished   
Comment: Queen Betsy needs a vacation.  The latest offerings have been less original and less funny. The blonde thing and the shoes just aren't working anymore.
Meg Cabot 
  • Abandon    
Michele Hauf 
  • Forever Vampire  
Michelle Rowen 
  • Bloodlust  
  • Nightshade
Molly Harper 
  • The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf   
Comment: The title says it all.  Fluffy and fun.
Nalini Singh 
  • Archangel's Blade    
  • Archangel's Consort    
Nicole Peeler 
  • Tempest's Legacy    
Patricia Briggs 
  • River Marked  
Comment: Mercy Thompson takes a honeymoon.Not one of my favourites in the series, but strongly told.

Rachel Vincent 
  • Blood Bound    
Richelle Mead 
  • Bloodlines    
  • Succubus Revealed     
Comment: Succubus Revealed is book 6 and an excellent conclusion to this popular series. Does Georgina get her HEA?  Read it and find out. Richelle also introduced a Vampire Academy spinoff in Bloodlines which may prove to be equally popular. A strong opener.
Seressia Glass 
  • Shadow Blade    
  • Shadow Chase    
  • Shadow Fall 
Sharon Lee 
  • Carousel Tides    
Thea Harrison 
  • Dragon Bound    
  • Storm's Heart   
Yasmine Galenorn 
  • Blood Wyne    
  • Night Myst     
  • Night Veil    
  • Courting Darkness


Andrea Cremer 
  • Wolfsbane: A Nightshade Novel     
Ann Aguirre 
  • Enclave   
Comment: Terrific post-apocalyptic sf with a fascinating underground society and heaps of adventure. Recommended.
C. Dulaney 
  • Roads Less Traveled: The Plan   
Carrie Ryan 
  • The Dead-Tossed Waves  
  • The Dark and Hollow Places    
Cynthia Hand 
  • Unearthly     
David Weber 
  • A Beautiful Friendship
Comment: Classic style YA SF first contact story. Recommended.
Jenna Black 
  • Glimmerglass
Comment: YA outing from the popular urban fantasy writer. Fascinating world-building with a dimension spanning city of Avalon between Earth and Faerie. Fresh characters and well paced story.
Kiersten White 
  • Paranormalcy  
Kim Harrison 
  • Early to Death, Early to Rise  
  • Once Dead, Twice Shy   
  • Something Deadly This Way Comes   
Laini Taylor 
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone  
Lauren DeStefano 
  • Wither      
Maria V. Snyder 
  • Outside In    
Comment: Worthy sequel to Inside Out, this SF tale doesn't contain the same surprises as the opener but succeeds with adventure and imagination.
Nancy Holder, Debbie Viguie 
  • Unleashed
Philip Reeve 
  • Fever Crumb
R.J. Anderson 
  • Ultraviolet   
Comment:  Set in Sudbury Ontario, Ultraviolet poses and interesting mystery involving a young girl who supposedly killed a fellow teen and suffers from mental disease. A mystery at heart with a science fictional twist.
Rachel Caine 
  • Bite Club    
  • Last Breath    
  • Working Stiff 
Comment: A busy year for the Morganville Vampires. Reliable entertainment from the denizens of the Glass House.
Sarah Porter 
  • Lost Voices     
Comment: I was mesmerized by this mermaid tale. Fascinating and alien. My favourite YA of the year.

Veronica Roth 
  • Divergent     
Comment: YA seems to choose dystopian or post-apocalyptic themes  to great effect. Roth has produced a gripping and engaging tale of a fractured future society. Recommended.


A. Lee Martinez 
  • Chasing the Moon
Carrie Vaughn 
  • Discord's Apple     
Comment: Couldn't really get into this blend of urban fantasy/mythology, science fiction and comic books.
Daniel Abraham 

The Dagger and the Coin Series:
  • The Dragon's Path     
David Anthony Durham 

Acacia Trilogy:
  • 2. The Other Lands    
  • 3. The Sacred Band     
Comment: A strong finish to this epic fantasy trilogy. Strong characters and riveting adventure. Highly recommended.
George R. R. Martin 

A Song of Fire and Ice:
  • #5 A Dance with Dragons     
Comment: Martin is one of the most inventive and creative fantasy writers working. A Dance with Dragons contains enough material for 5 books but fails to move the main story arc forward in any meaningful way. Highly disappointing after such a long wait. The richness of the vision is astounding but this is yet another transitional novel. It might well have been titled Tyrion Takes a Road Trip & Other Stories..
Guillermo Del Toro, Chuck Hogan 
  • The Strain 
Comment: Checked out this first book in highly recommended trilogy. Bored me to tears.
J. D. Robb 

In Death Series:
  • New York to Dallas    
  • Treachery In Death     
Comment: Somehow this series never gets tired for me. The chemistry between Dallas and Rorke makes it all worthwhile.
Jacqueline Carey 

Namaah Trilogy
  • #2 Naamah's Curse    
  • #3 Naamah's Blessing    
Comment: Carey again shows she is a master storyteller wrapping up yet another powerful romantic fantasy. Highly recommended.
Michelle Sagara   

Chronicles of Elantra Series:

  • #6 Cast in Chaos 
Comment: Keeps getting better and better.
Mira Grant 

Newsflesh Series:
  • #1 Feed    
  • #2 Deadline     
Comment: Simply put this is the best zombie series out there today. The logic of this post-apocalyptic world is impeccable. Can't wait for Blackout (#3)
Patricia Briggs 
  • Raven's Shadow
Patrick Rothfuss 

The Kingkiller Chronicle:
  • #2 The Wise Man's Fear  
Comment: A worthy follow-up to Wise Man's Fear. Story telling at it's finest. Wildly imaginative.
Robin Hobb 

The Rain Wild Chronicles:
  • #1 Dragon Keeper
  • #2 Dragon Haven   
Comment: Pacing on this new series by the usually reliable Hobb is slow. Doesn't reach the standards of previous series. It seems every fantasy writer needs a dragon book or series.
Sophie Littlefield 

Aftertime Series:
  • #1 Aftertime
  • #2 Rebirth     
Comment: Not sure what it is about zombie stories coming on strong in 2011 but Sophie Littlefield enters the post-apocalyptic fray with  a new terrific character driven series that is a must read.
Stephen King 
  • 11-22-63     
Comment: Surprisingly poignant. King's signature nostalgia and product brand marketing aside.
Terry Goodkind 

Sword of Truth Series:
  • #12 The Omen Machine     
Comment: A reboot of the Sword of Truth series. First book in three years and it shows. Few sparks between main characters leaves this a mediocre effort.


Barrie Eisler 
  •    The Detachment
Janet Evanovich

Stephanie Plum Series:
  •    Finger Lickin' Fifteen 
  •    Smokin' Seventeen
  •    Explosive Eighteen   
Comment: A guilty pleasure. Story quality varies from book to book but I always get a number of laughs from each which makes them worth the price.
Jeffery Deaver 
  •    Carte Blanche 
Comment: Another reboot of the James Bond series. Story is interesting enough but this could have been any spy thriller. If you want James Bond stick to the Fleming versions.
Stieg Larsson

The Millenium Trilogy
  •    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo       
  •    The Girl Who Played with Fire    
  •    The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest    
Comment: Everything about this terrific thriller trilogy lives up to the hype. Full of twists and turns and dark secrets.
Tom Clancy, Mark Greaney 
  • Locked On
Comment: Excellent thriller marred only by the usual extensive Clancy infodumps.

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