Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fool for Books Giveaway Hop: Warm Bodies (a novel) ~ by Isaac Marion


warm bodies

This hop is closed however the book is still available to win!  (See the form at the bottom of this post).

The Fool For Books Giveaway Hop ~ April 1st to 2nd. It is a two day hop in honor of the fool.

We have one book on offer since this hop is so short. It is the soon to be released  Warm Bodies: a novel ~ by Isaac Marion. We have one copy for US|Canada only.

Initially released in the UK this book is being published in a variety of languages all over the planet, and is a romance story about a zombie!

Here’s the publisher’s blurb: 

R is a young man with an existential crisis--he is a zombie. He has no memories, nfool-for-books_thumb26o identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. His ability to connect with the outside world is limited to a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing.

After experiencing a teenage boy's memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and strangely sweet relationship with the victim's human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His choice to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.

Isaac Marion

Hardcover: 256 pages; Atria (April 26, 2011) for US|Canada  - available in UK.  

Bio:  Isaac Marion was born in northwestern Washington in 1981 and has lived in and around Seattle his whole life installing heating ducts, guarding power plants, delivering deathbeds to Hospice patients, and supervising parental visits for foster children. He is not married, has no children, and did not go to college or win any prizes. Warm Bodies is his first novel.  Websites: Formspring; Facebook; Twitter; Burning Building

Contest Info:

The contest this book is for US and Canada only.  To enter please fill out the form below. You do not need to be a reader/follower to enter. You must leave your email in the form below.

For optional extra points  ~ you can do any, all or none of the below for 1 entry point each:

  1. Be a subscriber of Layers of Thought – Google or Facebook. (I need to be able to see you!  For Facebook to get our blog updates in your feed - add me as a friend otherwise it does not count).
  2. Friend on Twitter (I will follow back).

Contest ends Monday April 25th, 2011 at 12 pm US Pacific time. Winner will be posted and notified on Monday May 9th, 2011.  

(Please note - You may have to link to the blog to access the giveaway form if you are viewing this post in email or in Google Reader).


We use to determine our winners. If you have a question or a concern (a typo or bad link or a problem with this form) please email me via my profile – Shellie

This hop is now closed. Stay tuned for our next hop, just in time for some real hopping ~ for Easter. We have four books on offer for this ginormous giveaway extravaganza!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

April is National Poetry Month ~ Celebrate at Savvy Verse and Wit!


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Serena @ Savvy Verse & Wit is hosting a month long event during April for National Poetry Month. She has a variety of events in store and is looking for authors, publishers, and bloggers to participate.


National Poetry Month celebrates this shorter more concise form of writing, which offers quicker access to emotions and subconscious processes – a very different experience compared to reading a novel.

This event is for anyone who loves poetry, wants to learn more, and/or is interested in participating for this month long extravaganza. For additional info about national events check out There you will find information about “poem in your pocket day”, a “poetry read-a-thon”, and more.

Join in, find a poetry book, read a bit, write some of your own, check out the events, sign up to participate, and help spread the work by grabbing a badge (right click and save picture as) and then by posting it on your blog or website and linking back to Savvy Verse & Wit.

With a high impact theme including Spring images - I have had a blast by helping out and creating these badges for the event. Which badge will you choose?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Release Day: Dark Jenny ~ by Alex Bledsoe


Dark Jenny

Its release day for  Dark Jenny ~ by Alex Bledsoe  US|UK|Canada.  It’s the third in a series but also a stand alone.

About:    For twenty-five gold pieces a day, plus expenses, Eddie LaCrosse will take on most any case. But the unexpected delivery of a coffin in the dead of winter forces LaCrosse to look back at a bygone chapter in his past—and the premeditated murder of a dream.

Powerful nobles all too eager to pin the murder on Eddie himself, he must untangle a tangled web of palace intrigues, buried secrets, and bewitching women—before the entire kingdom erupts into civil war. 

Murder, mystery, and magic—just another day on the job for Eddie LaCrosse.

Paperback: 352 pages; Tor Books; First Edition edition (March 29, 2011) ~  Tor is hosting a giveaway on Goodreads for this book. Link to enter!

the sword edged blonde

The Sword-Edged Blonde ~ US|UK|Canada. This is the first in the series and is also available in ebook format for 2.99 for a short time.

About:   It should have been a case like any other: a missing princess, a king willing to pay in gold for her return. But before he realizes it, sword jockey Eddie LaCrosse is swept up in a web of mystery and deceit involving a brutally murdered royal heir, a queen accused of an unspeakable crime, and the tragic past he thought he’d left behind.

A tour-de-force foray into a realm of action, intrigue, and murder.  ~   Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages; Tor Fantasy; Reprint edition (June 30, 2009)

burn me deadly

Burn Me Deadly ~ US|UK|Canada.

About:   An all-new tale of mean streets and medieval intrigue. Eddie LaCrosse, a freelance sword jockey who, for twenty-five gold pieces a day, is on his way back from a routine investigation when his horse almost runs down a half-naked blonde in serious trouble. Against his better judgment, he promises to protect the frightened young woman, only to find himself waylaid by unknown assailants and left for dead beside her mutilated body.

As bodies pile up, attracting the unwelcome attention of the king’s guards, Eddie must use all his wits if he hopes to survive . . .     Hardcover: 320 pages; Tor Books; 1 edition (November 10, 2009)

Bio: Alex Bledsoe grew up in west Tennessee an hour north of Graceland and twenty minutes from Nutbush. But now lives in a Wisconsin town famous for trolls and mustard. Connect with him via Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace, and his blog.

You have to like a book with a cover like this; and that the author lives in a town that’s known for trolls. Very cool…..don’t you just love trolls?

Although its Tuesday and just another regular week day,  the good news is - we are coming to one of our favorite days of the year – April Fools Day! 

Most importantly is that the Fool for Books Giveaway Hop (April 1-2) will be live for 2 days starting late evening of March 31st. There are 230 or so blogs linking their giveaways, so mark your calendars to win books and bookish stuff – but don’t forget to wear your “silly hats” to help you get into the spirit of things!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Incoming Book Previews ~ March 28, 2011



Incoming Book Previews ~ This is our “whenever we can get to it” feature; our pile of incoming books up for review. This “little” collection includes shortened publisher’s snippets about each, so you can get a gist and see if one or more of the books may be of interest for you. Also there are purchasing links - if your purse allows or if you are so inclined. Several will be up for giveaway so please stay tuned!

The biggest and best question of the day is:  Which book would you read first?

girl who navigated


The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making ~ by Catherynne M. Valente (illustrated by Ana Juan) pre-purchasing - US|UK|Canada.

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland.     Young Adult; Hardcover: 256 pages; Feiwel & Friends (May 10, 2011)Willy

Willy ~ by Robert Dunbar   US|UK|Canada.

In an isolated school for boys with emotional problems, a disturbed adolescent struggles against a mire of ignorance and oppression. Then he meets Willy ... and the other boy – charismatic and strange – saves him. Or damns him.   ~   Paperback: 272 pages; Uninvited Books (January 24, 2011)

warm bodies

Warm Bodies ~ by Isaac Marion   pre-purchase for US|Canada  - available in UK.

R is a young man with an existential crisis--he is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. His ability to connect with the outside world is limited to a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing.  ~   Hardcover: 256 pages; Atria (April 26, 2011)

Dark Jenny

Dark Jenny ~ by Alex Bledsoe  pre-purchase US|UK|Canada.

For twenty-five gold pieces a day, plus expenses, Eddie LaCrosse will take on most any case. But the unexpected delivery of a coffin in the dead of winter forces LaCrosse to look back at a bygone chapter in his past—and the premeditated murder of a dream. He must untangle a tangled web of palace intrigues, buried secrets, and bewitching women—before the entire kingdom erupts into civil war.  ~   Paperback: 352 pages; Tor Books; First Edition edition (March 29, 2011)

pink noise

Pink Noise: a posthuman tale ~ by Leonid Korogodski   US|UK|Canada

One of the best brain doctors of his time, Nathi lost his own brain five centuries ago when he became a posthuman. He is called upon to save a comatose girl. The damage is extensive, so he decides to map his own mind into her brain in order to replace the damaged part. But something unexpected waits for him within the Girl's brain. She is a carrier of a Wish Fairy, an enigmatic sentient cyber being whose only purpose is to kill the Wish, a virus used by the ruling cyber Wizard Orders to enslave all posthuman minds"including Nathi's. ~  Hardcover: 192 pages; Silverberry Press (August 29, 2010)

write more good

Write More Good: An Absolutely Phony Guide ~ by The Bureau Chiefs   pre-purchase US|UK|Canada.

It’s time to face up to reality: Writing clearly, checking facts, and correcting typos are dying arts. Whether you’re a jaded producer of media or a nitpicking consumer of it, this book will help you to embrace, not resist, the lowering of standards for the written word!

Part dictionary, part journalism textbook, part grammar and writing manual, Write More Good is a “comprehensive” “guide” to today’s “media,” in all its ambulance-chasing, story-fabricating, money-hemorrhaging glory.  ~  Paperback: 272 pages; Three Rivers Press (April 5, 2011)


Galore ~  by Michael Crummey   pre-purchase US|UK available in Canada.

When a whale beaches itself on the shore of the remote coastal town of Paradise Deep, the last thing any of the townspeople expect to find inside it is a man, silent and reeking of fish, but remarkably alive.  ~  Paperback: 352 pages; Other Press (March 29, 2011)


 The A-Men ~ by John Trevillian  US|UK|Canada.

Jack is a man with no memory, awakening in a dark and dangerous metropolis on the eve of its destruction. The only clue to his former life: a handwritten note in the pages of a book of faerie tales entitled Forevermore.  ~  Hardcover: 410 pages; Troubador Publishing Ltd (November 24, 2010)

a-men return

The A-Men Return ~ by John Trevillian  US|UK|Canada.

Four years have passed since the destruction of the Phoenix Tower and with it the infamous A-Men. The once-great Dead City is now a no-go zone; abandoned and forgotten. Living in this nightmarish underworld Jack is a twisted shadow of his former self, a lone survivor in a world of warring ganglords and their crazed disciples. Yet something is stirring in the sanctuary of the near-space starstations.  ~   Hardcover: 432 pages; Troubador Publishing Ltd (February 11, 2011)

contra alliance - shadows of the past

Contra Alliance: Shadows of the Past (The Contra Alliance Trilogy, Book One)  ~ by Tom Kolega US|UK|Canada.

The year is 2035. America's preeminence has withered. Global warming, scarce resources, and conflict have pushed the world to its breaking point. Throughout the increasing turmoil, a rogue group called The Revolution has risen to prominence seeking domination over humanity. Shadows of the Past explores the covert faction of extraordinary messengers racing to save Earth. Legends of the past and visions of the future collide when a long-dormant evil resurfaces to challenge the most powerful space alliance in the universe. The course of human history irrevocably alters, setting the world on an unforeseen path.  ~   Hardcover: 376 pages; BCH Fulfillment & Distribution; (January 1, 2010)

A colorful bunch with some enticing covers. Until our next teetering pile o’ books - Happy Monday!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Review: The Oracle of Stamboul (a novel) ~ by Michael David Lukas


the oracle of stamboul

The Oracle of Stamboul ~ by Michael David Lukas (reviewed by Shellie)

A poetic page turning historical début with an unusual and precocious young girl as the main character. All set in an exotic, magical, yet politically volatile country and time.

About:  When Eleanor Cohen is born there are auspicious signs that she is not your normal child. She is to be a prodigy with gifts of memory, languages, extreme intelligence and something which is just a tad mystical. Set in the late 1800s in what is now Turkey, 8 year old Eleanor finds herself in Stamboul within the struggling Ottoman empire, after a decision to follow her father. As the fates conspire she is linked to the king - Sultan Abdulhamid II - and becomes his advisor for a short time during the ill fated years of his declining empire.

Thoughts:  This was such a lovely read with my very favorite type of female character, one who is strong, brave and kind. Yet Eleanor is also beyond brilliant. Endearingly she makes a few girlish decisions creating a wonderfully realistic and exceedingly likeable character.

As a historical fiction novel, it is light enough to appeal to those who are not so historically inclined (like myself). I would even recommend the book to young adult readers due to its wonderful character and easy to read lyrical writing style. For those that enjoy history, also mentioned are classic texts which are significant to the political choices made within the novel, making it of particular interest.

As Lukas’s first novel, The Oracle of Stamboul is complex yet easy to read. His descriptions are sensual but there is no sex in this story, and many volatile elements are just alluded to. This combination gives the novel a very strong appeal -it’s a rare combination in my experience and leads me to think that Lucas is an extraordinary writer. He took six years to complete this story and it shows.

In my opinion this book is rated 4.5 stars since it doesn’t get much better - a lyrical historical novel with mystical yet realistic threads. I am wondering when we will see his next book? Hopefully it won’t be another six years.

Hardcover: 304 pages; Harper (February 8, 2011) US|UK|Canada. For more about the author and his writing link to David Michael Lucas’s blog.

tlc tour host

This book review is part of a tour hosted by TLC. TLC is a book tour blog which hosts reviews and more by bloggers for author’s and their books. The badge to your right links to the host’s dedicated page for this book. There you will find links for additional reviews; below are some examples:

Thank you to Trish for including Layers of Thought in this tour, and to Harper Books for the copy for review.


Some relevant historical data for the novel compiled from various Wikipedia posts:

Set in what is now Turkey, Stamboul is considered the the old city of Istanbul. Until 1928 the town was called "Constantinople" and "Stamboul" - meaning the Old Town (the historical peninsula). It was named Byzantium during antiquity, and became known as Constantinople when it was the second capital of the Roman Empire under Constantine I (330).

It is located on the Strait of Bosphorus, which separates Asia from Europe, and connects the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea, making it an area of great cultural and religious diversity and a valuable trade port. Today the modern city is much larger and covers both European and Asian sides of the Bosphorus. (You can see from the red bit in the map above its location and hence its importance).

A key character in the novel is Sultan Abdülhamid II. He was born September 21 or 22, 1842 and died February 10, 1918. He was the 34th sultan of the Ottoman Empire and became the sultan on August 31, 1876. Being of Islamic beliefs he had 14 wives and a large number of children.

Of interest for the setting of The Oracle of Stamboul is the beginning of the dissolution of Abdulhamid's rule. This was in part due to the Russian’s declaration of war on April 24, 1877 that culminated in a Russian victory in February 1878.  During the ensuing difficulties Abdulhamid did not receive any help from the British or German/Austrians, as the Russian chancellor Prince Gorchakov had effectively purchased Austrian neutrality, and the British were sensitive to reports of Ottoman brutality in a Bulgarian uprising.

Sultan Abdülhamid II oversaw a period of decline in the power and extent of the Empire, ruling until he was deposed on April 27 1909. He was the last Ottoman Sultan to rule with absolute power, and was eventually succeeded by his brother.

I’m hoping you enjoyed my journey into 19th century foreign history. Considering that I am inept at any sort of history, I learned quite a bit creating this informational snippet. Thanks for reading.

Review: Wither (Chemical Garden Trilogy # 1) ~ by Lauren DeStefano



It’s release day for Wither (Chemical Garden Trilogy # 1) ~ by Lauren DeStefano  (reviewed by Shellie)

With a gorgeous and perfectly fitting cover, Wither is a dark young adult dystopian novel for older teens.

About:  Set in a horrific future where young people die in their early 20s due to some unknown genetic disease, our heroine Rhine is 16 years old and has 4 years to go. She is strong, smart, and of course pretty, but what marks her as special is an unusual characteristic. It is a visible genetic anomaly which makes her even more attractive.

Rhine is left with her twin brother in a crazed urban environment in a vaguely recognizable United States. As they struggle to get by, Rhine answers an illegitimate ad for a job, which takes her on a terrible trip inside a different type of social structure. She finds herself in an arena where she is matched for procreation purposes with a young man, in an attempt to find a solution for the deaths. But the question is how far will those in power go in their attempt to find a cure? 

Thoughts:   As with all dystopian novels the society has become twisted, so Wither has a number of scary themes such as a creepy father in law (rather than the so prevalent “evil stepmother”), polygamy, childbirth, abuse and death.  We also have just enough politics and science to lead young women to think about things like genetics and what could happen if our social structure where to suddenly be irrevocably changed.

It is Lauren DeStefano’s debut novel, is the first of a trilogy, and has all the elements older teens are going to love - romance, terror, amazing clothes, hair and makeup. We also have an incredible strong character - my favorite kind – one who thinks and plans, and is not of a victim mentality; an excellent role model in my opinion.

Although it has no bad language, it has some very adult themes and sexual references. The Simon and Schuster website recommends it for 14 and up and I would agree. I am looking forward to reading the next in the series, and hope to answer the questions I still have about this genetically based science fiction story. I am so hoping to get some realistic science in this series. I enjoyed this novel at 3.5 stars

Hard Cover and ebook; Young Adult; 368 pages; Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing; (March 22, 2011) US|UK|Canada.   For more information on Wither link to Layers of Thought’s preview for the book.

Author Bio: Lauren DeStefano earned her BA in English with a Concentration in Creative Writing from Albertus Magnus College in Connecticut in 2007. Wither is her first novel.

This book will be included in a variety of challenges we are involved in – Dystopian, Sci Fi and others to be determined.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Inside the Blogosphere ~ Grasping for the Wind



John Ottinger @ Grasping for the Wind  has an interesting event that he hosts every few months or so alongside all his other features on his very prolific blog. This most recent theme’s title and question are based upon the planet’s recent catastrophic events, and is:

Inside the Blogosphere: In Case of Disaster Save These Books:  If you had to leave your house in a hurry, and you could only grab five volumes off your shelf, which five would they be and why?

Our first participation in this event  - we have added our darkly satirical, horrific, and veering on the speculative book choices which are included towards the end of the post.

As bloggers who love, review, and promote speculative books we are always looking for book recommendations from great speculative blogs. This event is perfect for this, in fact I think that more than a few more books will be added to our teetering pile from this post as well as a few new blogs. Link on by, say hello, lurk, and find some new blogs, buddies, and books (and most importantly, perhaps, donate to the Red Cross in an effort to help out those who are in need after recent events).

*Side note* - Check out John’s headers for his blog (one of which is included above). I created some of them for him via a contest and won 8 books from the deal. Very, very cool!  Mine are the two colored ones; all can be viewed by refreshing your browser.

Review: The Healers ~ by Thomas Heric


the healers

The Healers (The Aesculapians, Book One) ~ by Thomas Heric (reviewed by John/JD)

A not-too-futuristic novel set in a world where one company owns and jealously protects all leading-edge medical knowledge.

About: It’s the year 2021. For over 80 years an organization know as the Aesculapians has been pioneering medical research and developing cures for the world’s worst diseases. Comprised of the world’s most brilliant medical minds, the Aesculapians are based on a group of small remote islands in the Pacific Ocean. By using (and developing) the very latest technologies, they have been able to create treatments and cures that seem miraculous to the outside world. And by distancing themselves from all government oversight and control, and by jealously guarding all knowledge of their medical know-how and treatments, they have gradually built up a huge global business empire, selling their cures at exorbitant rates and making them available only to those who are able to pay the price.

Meanwhile, as the Aesculapians go from strength to strength, the traditional medical system is crumbling – weighed down by costs that governments and most people cannot afford, and with doctors who are increasingly viewed as part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Enter Wesley Anderson, an exceptionally talented medical school graduate, who is approached to become a Healer for the secretive organization. He has many qualms about the morals of the Aesculapians, but is finally convinced to join when they offer to cure his terminally sick father as part of the deal. Once Wesley is on the islands to undergo the rigorous training regime, he becomes even more conflicted – he sees for himself the amazing results that the Healers are able to achieve, but his concerns over the morals and attitudes of the organization grow ever stronger. And then Wesley starts to uncover some very disturbing secrets about the organization’s past and its plans for the future.

Thoughts: The book has a very interesting premise and I like the ideas behind it. The story builds up nicely, and while some of the underlying notions and medical cures are a little far-fetched, they are sufficiently in the realms of “vaguely possible” to keep the momentum going. For me at least, I like futuristic novels to have some level of believability and authenticity.

But then things start to go off at the deep end. The connection with Nazis is a bit silly (I’m not spoiling the plot as there are swastikas on the cover), the grand plan for the future that’s uncovered is too over the top, the action sequences become too much, and some of the character development is unbelievable.

If you like futuristic thrillers with a strong medical bent and aren’t too fussed about the story being believable, you may love this book. For me I’d say that I enjoyed the first two thirds of the book but the final third left me a bit cold. Overall, I’d rate it 2.5 stars.

Hardcover: 592 pages; Synergy Books (March 23, 2010)  US|UK|Canada.

For publisher and author info on this book please see our introductory post for The Healers.  As always John will be addressing any comments around this book. So don’t be forget to check the follow up box.

Here’s to a productive Monday, and remember when all else fails there's always a good cup of tea to brighten the day!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Guest Post: Kathleen and W. Michael Gear talk about their latest novel ~ The Dawn Country


Gears photo - recent

Today we have a guest post from Kathleen and W. Michael Gear on their newly published book -The Dawn Country.

It’s part of a sweeping series and saga based upon North America’s First People; it’s the second in a smaller series inside the collection – People of the Longhouse.

The Gears are professional archeologists and have years of writing experience, which culminates in expert insight and information inside their books. Let’s welcome them as they share about their writing process and give some glimpses into this popular series.

Why did you write this series?    We wrote the “North America’s Forgotten Past” series to chronicle the rise and fall of the magnificent native cultures that inhabited North America long before Europeans arrived on our shores. As archaeologists, we know the role these extraordinary cultures played in what America would become, but most people don’t.

Most Americans have no idea, for example, that their unique concepts of democracy, and even their very identity, was molded by Iroquois concepts of self, government, and liberty. The notion of one-person-one-vote, referendum and recall, and especially the notion of confederacy of states—or a United States--originated not in Europe or ancient Greece, but in the forests of upstate New York in the mid- 1400s.

Does your story line develop organically or is it a gestalt before you begin? Well, it depends. The story is based upon the archaeological information, as well as Iroquoian oral history, so we know the beginning and ending when we start. What we don’t know is exactly how the characters are going to reach that ending. As a result, characters evolve organically as they must deal with the stresses of the storyline.

How does your archeological degrees and experience impact your story telling?  Our 35 years of experience as archaeologists heavily influences the story. Everything the characters wear and eat, the tools they use, the activities they participate in, are all based upon the archaeological record—what has actually been dug up.

Do you have a favorite character in the book and if so why?  That’s like asking a parent which child is their favorite! We love them all or we wouldn’t have written their stories, but that said, we feel especially close to the children who are stolen from their homes during war raids and sold into slavery. Seeing warfare through the eyes of its youngest victims is a powerful experience for authors, and we hope, for readers.

What do you like the most about writing?   Character creation is a kind of magic, you’re never quite sure where these people are going, and watching it happen is just plain fun. Additionally, we have had people explain how our stories have helped them in times of crisis. The notion that our fiction can help hurting individuals is really humbling.

Where do your new story ideas come from?   They come from archaeological excavations and native oral history. With People of the Moon, for example, we were touring the site in southern Colorado and the story just popped into our heads. The same thing happened at the Poverty Point site in Louisiana—bam! People of the Owl was just magically there.

What advice has helped the most in your writing?  Kathleen’s father was a short story writer, and he said, “Writing is 3% inspiration and 97% hard work. Don’t sit around and wait for a story to come. Just sit down and start writing.”

Is a sequel in the works? Yes, actually, The Broken Land, book 3 in the Iroquois quartet is already finished, and we’re hard at work on The Black Sun, the final book.

Who is your favorite author and why?  There are so many it’s hard to name just one. Here are a few of them: John Steinbeck, Margaret Mitchell, Elmer Kelton, Craig Johnson, A.B. Guthrie, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lisa Gardner, C.J Cherryh, David Morrel, Greg Iles, Tess Gerritsen, and the list goes on.

What advice would you give for the want to be writer?  Tenacity is worth ten times what talent is. You have to have both, but without the ability to see a project through, regardless of all the idiots out there who tell you that you can’t do it, you are lost. For ourselves, Mike wrote 8 novels before he sold his first. Kathleen had written 5. You must learn the craft and excel before you can sell in the modern market.

Dawn-Country book cover

The Dawn Country (People of the Longhouse #2) ~ US|UK|Canada.

The children are still being held captive; even if they die they know someone has to escape to carry the story back to their people - to stop an evil old woman. The elders have not abandoned their search for the children, as many have been sold and carried off to distant villages and lost to their families and homes forever.   Hardcover: 304 pages; Forge Books (March 15, 2011)

people of the longhouse

People of the Longhouse ~ US|UK|Canada.

Six hundred years ago in what would become the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada, five Iroquois tribes were locked in bitter warfare. From the ashes of violence, a great Peacemaker was born… Young Odion and his little sister, Tutelo, live in fear that one day Yellowtail Village will be attacked.

When that day comes and Odion and Tutelo are marched away as slaves, their only hope is that their parents will rescue them.  Hardcover: 304 pages; Forge Books; 1 edition (July 20, 2010)

Bios:  Kathleen O’Neal Gear is a former state historian and archaeologist for Wyoming, Kansas, and Nebraska for the U.S. Department of the Interior. She has twice received the federal government's Special Achievement Award for "outstanding management" of our nation's cultural heritage.

W. Michal Gear holds a master's degree in archaeology, has worked as a professional archaeologist since 1978. He is currently principal investigator for Wind River Archaeological Consultants. For more about the Gears and their books link to their website, Facebook page, and blog.

***Win A Copy***   In case your interested in winning a copy of just released - The Dawn Country, head on over to Bill’s Blog – Azure Dwarf (link to enter and to see his fun March header)!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Review: Home Fires ~ by Gene Wolfe


home fires

Home Fires ~ by Gene Wolfe (reviewed by John/JD)

A genre-bending novel that combines science fiction, detective story, thriller, love story, noir and pulp fiction.

Set in North America in the far future, the story revolves around Skip, a hot-shot lawyer, and Chelle, Skip’s college sweetheart who is a Master Gunner in the army. Unfortunately her tour of duty takes her to a distant solar system in a war with an alien race. As the months pass for Chelle, years of relative time pass for Skip – and when she returns there is a big age difference between them. But there is much more that separates them.

She has had radical medical treatment after being almost killed in action, and what returns to earth is not 100% Chelle. Meanwhile he has dedicated himself to becoming a highly successful lawyer in a crazy world where the legal system is all powerful, and he has become extremely wealthy. Then there is Chelle’s mother who has been returned to life and now has a strong attraction to Skip. And someone is hell-bent on taking Chelle away again. Through it all Skip is desperate to rekindle their relationship, but he’s full of dread over the impact of the big age gap.

Does that sound like a complex plot? I haven’t yet mentioned the pirates, spies, aliens, kidnappings, adultery, betrayals, voodoo or the beggar with no hands. Seriously – I am not exaggerating.

So, it’s a complicated story with lots of twists and turns and some wonderful futuristic/fantastic ideas. But did I actually enjoy the read? Well, in truth, not as much as I feel like I should have done. The above description makes it sound like a killer novel, and certainly there was much about it that was enjoyable. For me the problem was that I was forever chasing the plot and not quite “getting it”. It was like you always had to know what was going to happen in the next five pages in order to understand the five pages that you’ve just read - I was constantly going back and re-reading sections or trying to find connections to help me make sense of what was happening. A lot of things did become clear in the final three pages, though I still feel like I’m missing pieces.

If you like twisty complex stories where you’re always trying to figure out who’s doing what to whom and why, you’ll love this book. If you like your science fiction mashed up with a variety of other genres, you’ll probably love this book. I certainly liked the book and you have to admire the many futuristic ideas and concepts that Wolfe dreamt up; he has a tremendous imagination. I’d rate it 3.5 stars.

Hardcover: 304 pages; Tor Books; First Edition edition (January 18, 2011) US|UK|Canada.

As always John will be addressing any comments on this review, so don’t forget to check the follow up box to get his response. This book was borrowed from our local library. We love ours. Support yours!

Since today is St. Patrick’s day and just in case you do not have enough to read here are several ideas:   Last year I collected a bunch of books with Irish themes. If interested check out last year’s Irish Wish post. It’s a mishmash of genres and a tad on the dark side. 

As well here is one on offer which is free and also darkly themed:  of blood and honey

Of Blood and Honey ~ by Stina Leicht (a free epub copy instead of a pint of Guinness)

If you like speculative inside a realistic setting and have an ereader, Night Shade Books is offering an EPUB copy of this recently released book. It is set in Ireland with political strife and a connection to fairies – I am thinking they will be the scary kind. Book cover links to the publisher’s page to get your copy.

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop ~ March 17th till 20th



Welcome to The Lucky Leprechaun Hop! ~ It is scheduled from 12:01 AM March 17th until 11:59 PM March 20th (badge links to our awesome host’s site).

  • As part of the hop we have 3 giveaways available on our blog – Layers of Thought.
  • You do not need to “follow” our blog to enter. 
  • To access each of the actual giveaway posts please click on the book cover or image. 
  • To enter any of the other 260 giveaways for this hop, check out Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post.



Giveaway 1 ~  WWW:Wake ~ by Robert J. Sawyer (reviewed by John/JD)  US|UK|Canada. 5 copies for international giveaway!

Link to John’s review ~ An intriguing and clever science fiction novel with a tremendous young female lead character.  The Thieves of Darkness




Giveaway 2 ~  The Thieves of Darkness ~ by Richard Doetsch US|UK|CanadaOne copy available for mailing within the US only.




Giveaway 3 ~  Have your Short Story or Synopsis edited ~ by Lou Aronica  (an award winning editor, author, and publisher). Lou has kindly offered to edit one winner’s short story or synopsis - up to twenty double-spaced pages. 


Each cover/picture links to the individual post for each giveaway, where you’ll find an online entry form.

This hop is now closed. Stay tuned for the next one coming on the first of April!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Twitter Chat with Tor (Wed - 3/16) ~ Debut Authors


tor image

Tor Books announces the second of their monthly Twitter chat series!

Calling all Tweetgeeks:  debut authors Peter Orullian, Beth Bernobich, and Rhiannon Frater talk about publishing their first novels in the second #Torchat this Wednesday, 3/16 at 4 PM EST

Tor Books is excited to announce the second #TorChat, the new sf/f genre-themed, hour-long chat series hosted on Twitter. Guest authors will join fans in a lively, informative and entertaining discussions of all that’s hot in genre fiction (140 characters at a time) from 4 to 5 PM Eastern on the third Wednesday of every month. Each #TorChat will revolve around a different genre topic of interest, with new guest authors and exclusive fan giveaways from @Torbooks.

This Wednesday’s chat is about debut authors. Not just the question everyone wants to know (how did you get published?!) but also questions specific to debut novels in genre writing. Special guest authors Peter Orullian (@PeterOrullian), Beth Bernobich (@beth_bernobich), and Rhiannon Frater (@rhiannonfrater) will chat with fans on why they chose genre fiction, how they got published, and what comes after the contract.

The chat will be introduced and (loosely) moderated by Tor publicist Cassie Ammerman (@leanoir), with giveaways of advance copies of upcoming summer SF releases from @TorBooks following the 4 -5 PM chat.

Author Guests:

the unremembered


Peter Orullian has worked in marketing at Xbox for nearly a decade, most recently leading the Music and Entertainment marketing strategy for Xbox LIVE, and has toured as a featured vocalist internationally at major music festivals. He has published several short stories. The Unremembered is his first novel. He lives in Seattle. 

The Unremembered (Book One of The Vault of Heaven) ~ by Peter Orullian  pre-purchasing links US|UK|Canada; Hardcover: 640 pages; Tor Books; (April 12, 2011)  passion play

Beth Bernobich comes from a family of story tellers, artists, and engineers. She juggles her time between working with computer software, writing, family, and karate. Her short stories have appeared in publications such as Asimov’s, Interzone, Postscripts, Strange Horizons, and Sex in the System. She lives with her husband and son in Connecticut. Passion Play is her first novel.

Passion Play ~ by Beth Bernobich US|UK|Canada; Hardcover: 368 pages; Tor Books; First Edition edition (October 12, 2010)

Rhiannon Frater is the author of The First Days: As the World Dies and two sequels, Fighting to Survive and Siege, all originally self-published and soon to be published by Tor. She and her husband live in Austin, Texas.

The First Days: As the World Dies ~ by Rhiannon Frater (preliminary cover image is available on her blog). This author will be of particular interest to the self published folks out there – since her novels where originally self published and have been picked up by Tor. Very cool!

About Tor Books:  Tor Books, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, is a New York-based publisher of hardcover and softcover books, founded in 1980 and committed (although not limited) to SF and fantasy literature. In 2002, Tor launched Starscape, an imprint dedicated to publishing quality science fiction and fantasy for young readers, including books by critically acclaimed and award winning authors such as Cory Doctorow, Orson Scott Card, and David Lubar. Between an extensive hardcover and trade-softcover line, an Orb backlist program, and a stronghold in mass-market paperback, Tor annually publishes what is arguably the largest and most diverse line of science fiction and fantasy ever produced by a single English-language publisher. Books from Tor have won every major award in the SF and fantasy fields, and for the last twenty-three years the company has been named Best Publisher in the Locus Poll, the largest consumer poll in SF.

We love Tor. Everyone loves Tor. If you don’t love Tor – well…. skip it then. But this should be an interesting event.

Although I did not participate in the first it has been my experience with other group chats of this ilk that they are fun. I invariably meet someone new and interesting, like Blake Charlton (Spellwright). What a talented guy and funny too!US|UK|Canada.

If you join in and add me on twitter - (@layersofthought). I will friend you back. *big smile*

We also have a bundle of posts coming up in the next several days:

  • The Lucky Leprechan Giveaway Hop – with over 250 blogs linked up with bookish giveaways.
  • A guest post from the husband and wife writing team – The Gears (authors of just released today - The Dawn Country US|UK|Canada).
  • A review by John of the sci fi stand alone Home Fires written by Gene Wolfe. US|UK|Canada.
  • Goodness knows what else the blog gods will grace us with!

Happy Tuesday; are you getting ready to wear some green?

Guest Post and Giveaway: Lou Aronica, editor and author of ~ Blue


author photo

We have a special guest post and giveaway from author and editor ~ Lou Aronica.

It is an offered to edit one winner's short story or synopsis (up to twenty double-spaced pages). 

An editor and author of several novels and works of nonfiction, including a New York Times bestseller, he has recently started a publishing endeavor called The Fiction Studio and has just published Blue, his latest novel.

In this post he shares his experiences on how he came to be an editor, his experiences editing a number of award winning books by famous and established authors, some juicy insider thoughts around several types of authors he has had to deal with as an editor, and how he switched his role – becoming the edited instead of the editor.

An interesting and funny post; let’s welcome Lou Aronica.

The very first book I ever edited – David Brin’s Startide Rising – won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards. My batting average has plummeted since. In reality, I never planned to be an editor at all. Publishing was in fact my second choice of profession. I wanted to be a teacher, but there were no teaching jobs to be had in a dreadful economy (yes, some of us have been through this multiple times). I’d always planned to write, though, and book publishing seemed to be a good place to hang out with writers. Still, I saw myself as a marketing guy. It wasn’t until that first editorial gig that I discovered how much I loved it.

I’ve had a wide variety of fascinating experiences as an editor over the years. Among my favorites were offering a few notes to an SF Grand Master and actually having him accept them, convincing a humorous fantasy writer to write a serious novel about her experiences as a nurse in Vietnam (another Nebula winner), and rolling up my sleeves to help a pop singer and his wife turn hundreds of pages of their notes into a moving and instructive memoir. Sometimes I felt as though I was truly making a difference, as in the time a suspense writer told me about the new novel he was planning concerning a man trying to understand why his daughter had killed herself. “What if she isn’t dead?” I said to him, and the entire book pivoted into something more ambitious and much more suspenseful at that moment. Other times, I’ve felt as though I’d be making a bigger contribution if I were cleaning the dishes, as in the time I had an “editorial conference” with two collaborators and could think of nothing to say as they brilliantly dissected their work. At others, I’ve felt like putting my head in a microwave, such as when I was trying to explain to a Hollywood wannabe why his novel needed massive revisions while he was “taking meetings” at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Writers fall loosely into three categories in terms of their relationships with their editors. One is the Feedback Junkie. Some writers simply crave constructive criticism so much that they make you feel inadequate when you run out of things to nitpick. Interestingly, these tend to be the writers whose work is cleanest when I first see it. Then there are the Emotional Cherry Bombs. These are writers who have an extreme reaction to any criticism, though the explosion usually does minimal damage and they usually see the logic of the comments in the end. I had a situation recently where a writer was close to tears about a minor point in his manuscript. When I said to him, “You did notice the first several paragraphs of my editorial letter where I told you how much I loved this novel, right?” it still took him ten minutes to calm down. He did, however, calm down. Then there are the writers who simply aren’t open to criticism. I had a conversation years ago with a hugely talented writer that began with his saying to me, “Lou, I appreciate all the publishing help you’re giving me, and I’d appreciate it if you kept your editorial advice to yourself.” We essentially talked about the weather after that.

Of course, the worst editorial job I ever did in my life was on my own manuscript. When I delivered my first novel to my editor, I assumed it was in pristine condition. After all, I’d won awards for my editorial work; of course I could edit myself. The editor sent me a nine page letter detailing the voluminous errors I’d made. After I groused to my wife for twenty minutes (yes, I’m one of those writers), I realized that nearly everything the editor said made sense. These days, I just assume I’m going to make significant mistakes in my work that others will need to catch. It hasn’t made me complacent, but it has made me much more open to the advice.

Thank you Lou for sharing your insight and experience. It certainly has been a pleasure being in contact with you and reading your heart warming and breaking novel. Blue Front Cover

Blue: a novel ~ by Lou Aronica

A tear inducing novel about family love and the methods we create when coping with a life threatening illness - in ourselves, and in those we love most.

For more information on Blue – please see our 4 star review.   US|UK|Canada; Paperback: 400 pages; The Fiction Studio (January 16, 2011)

For more information on the book and about the author please see our Preview for Blue.

the healers war

The Healer's War ~ by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, and edited by Lou. It won the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1989.

A realistic fantasy novel set in Vietnam during the ill fated war against communism. With a touch of the magical/paranormal it shows a realistic, difficult, and heartbreaking picture of Vietnam from the perspective of a female veteran of the war.

Amazon links US|UK|Canada; Link here to review by Layers of Thought.

Do you recognize any of the other books or author’s Lou has mentioned in his post above?

Editing Giveaway:

Lou has offered to edit one winner's short story or synopsis (up to twenty double-spaced pages). 


  • You do not need to be a follower to enter. Everyone gets 1 point.
  • Do you follow Layers of Thought? 1 extra point.
  • If you are a long term follower on Layers of Thought prior to this giveaway, you get 1 more point.
  • If you are a frequent commenter you also get 1 extra point
  • Our sneaky plan ~ if you follow (and better yet comment regularly), you are entitled to special privileges!

Please fill out the form below (note - if you are viewing this post via email or in a reader, the form may only be accessible via the blog).



Good luck and thanks for entering! 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Review: Enough About Love ~ by Hervé Le Tellier(translated by Adriana Hunter)



Enough About Love ~ by Hervé Le Tellier (reviewed by Shellie)

A dryly humorous and intellectual literary story about the fickleness of human love and all its entanglements.

About:  Set in contemporary France we have Anna, who is a doctor, and Louise, an attorney. Anna's therapist falls for Louise, and Anna falls for a writer. Both women are beautiful, intelligent, Jewish and of very comfortable means. They also look so similar that they could be the same person or sisters. As these two women with loving families and husbands find romantic entanglement with different men (not their husbands), we see the complexity of their feelings, the inevitable consequences of their choices, and some of the inner workings of their lives – complex and mundane.

Creating a story which is  – “enough about love”.

Thoughts:  I enjoyed this literary novel partly because it’s not your ordinary romance and because it was perfect to read around Valentine’s day. As is often the case in real life romance all the character’s lives are intertwined, overlapped and connected.  Labeling each chapter with the character’s names, Le Tellier tells us about their daily lives as they connect throughout the story.

The author also offers the reader elements with heart wrenching depth such as a glimpse inside the Jewish psyche – one an incredible metaphorical link, inside a legal speech given by Louise about the holocaust; another gives a view inside the daily workings of a woman’s mind. Le Tellier’s attention to details is intriguing - for example he lists the clothing purchases of one of the main character’s - where he cleverly juxtaposes the heavy (as in the holocaust speech) and the light (represented by the gorgeous descriptions of each item such as lingerie and shoes).

It is a quirky novel which is often the case with translations - which is why I adore them. I was challenged and did not understand every little element; I was shocked, amazed and laughed. I give this realistic novel 3 stars. I would recommend it to readers who enjoy translations, like an intellectual read, are intrigued by the French, or are looking for a large step away from fluffy romance.

Enough About Love ~ by Hervé Le Tellier  US|UK|Canada. For more about the book – see our giveaway post for Enough About Love.

This book will be linked in various challenges – to be determined.

Thanks for reading!

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